Instead of pursuing further their best chance of silverware, West Ham are out of the FA Cup. Defending with all the conviction of a damp paper bag, for the second season in succession the Premier League side have lost to third tier opposition.
But how Wimbledon deserved their victory. Never mind that they appear cut adrift at the bottom of League One, this was a magnificent old-school Dons Cup performance: aggressive, spirited, mainlining determination.
Wally Downes had clearly seen it before. If there was one thing he learned from his time in Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang, it was how to disturb those who reckon themselves superior. He sent his men out with simple instruction.
If not quite replicating Vinnie Jones’s habit of applying an instant reducer, Wimbledon were straight into their elevated guests, snapping and sniping from the kick off. Playing in the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since the club’s renaissance in 2004, the former winners immediately made plain they were up for this.
With five players strung across midfield, they did not allow anyone to settle. And they had pace too. Dylan Connelly was immediately charging down the right to create a chance. Then Mitchell Pinnock tried the same down the left, winning a corner. In the scramble that followed, Andy Carroll failed to clear and the ball broke for the centre-back Terell Thomas. It was a good opportunity, but he slammed his shot well over the bar.