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Heroics that stunned Shots

8 June 2015

Andy Little on a memorable FA Trophy win

Andy Little battled against the pain barrier to be part of AFC Wimbledon promotion-winning squad in 2008, but it was his heroics in the FA Trophy win at Aldershot a season earlier that earned him cult status among Dons fans.

As part of a build-up to fixture release day on 17 June, we’re taking a look at each of AFC Wimbledon’s 13 seasons by focusing on the key matches and speaking to Dons heroes involved at the time.

Below Andy runs us through the key games from the 2006/07 season and talks about what it meant to play a vital part in AFC Wimbledon’s rise.

Aldershot (a) on 16 December, 2006 (won 2-1)

A total of 2,586 spectators watched Wimbledon pull off what was a big upset at the time in the FA Trophy. The Dons, then in the Ryman Premier League, turned around a 1-0 deficit to knock out Conference National club Aldershot. Chris Gell and Scott Fitzgerald struck the goals, but Andy Little’s display between the sticks was every bit as important as he made save after save to defy a team then managed by Terry Brown.

“It was one of those days when everything went right for me,” recalled Andy, who is pictured left receiving congratulations from Dave Anderson after the win. “We fell behind and we rode our luck a bit after that. I managed to make a few one-on-one saves and the momentum changed when Chris scored the equaliser. We got our noses in front and it was backs-to-the-wall at times for us, but we also played some good stuff. We got what we deserved because we worked so hard.

“Dave Anderson was under real pressure before that game, but we always seemed to play well against the big teams. The Recreation Ground was a proper old-fashioned stadium and Wimbledon fans packed out one end behind the goal. It was a great atmosphere on the day and a brilliant win to be involved with.”

Bromley (a) on 1 May, 2007 (lost 1-0)

The Dons had it all to do in this Ryman Premier play-off after Wes Daly was sent-off in the first-half. Despite pushing Bromley all the way with 10 men, Wimbledon suffered a narrow defeat with a goal from Nic McDonnell. It was a second successive promotion near miss for Wimbledon and it would lead to Dave Anderson’s departure with the subsequent appointment of Terry Brown signalling a new era for the club.

“We never lost many games that season and I thought we were the best team up there,” said Andy. “We were confident going into the game as we had beaten Bromley twice that season. I had saved a penalty from Nic McDonnell in a previous 3-2 win, but he got his revenge by getting the winner in the play-off. We lost our attacking impetus after going down to 10 men, but we still pressed hard. Right at the end Richard Jolly lobbed their keeper and I thought it was in, but it landed on top of the net. It was just not meant to be for us.”

Andy started Terry’s reign as AFC Wimbledon number one, but he suffered a terrible injury that effectively curtailed his 2007/08 season. Despite having to settle for a place on the bench in that memorable Ryman Premier play-off final win at Staines Town, Andy regards promotion with Wimbledon as the highlight of his career.

“After about 15 games that season I suffered a bad injury,” added Andy. “Three fingers in each hand were either broken or dislocated and I only managed to get back for the last league game of the season before the play-off. James Pullen had played really well and deserved his place for the final. I was on the bench and it meant a lot to be involved on that occasion.

“I have been part of promotion-winning teams with Croydon, Crawley, Croydon Athletic and Woking, but the scale of the achievement at AFC Wimbledon was greater. You could see how much it meant to the fans after starting again.”

Andy still retains plenty of enthusiasm for football as he combines his role as Academy Goalkeeping Coach at AFC Wimbledon with coaching senior goalkeepers at Woking FC.

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