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Written by portmantales on Tuesday, 20th Aug 2019 14:04
AFC Wimbledon make their first ever trip down to Portman Road in their current guise tonight on the back of the greatest escape in their club’s short history.
Whilst not full of the household names of times gone by, they certainly have enough to frustrate Ipswich and come away with a result and I welcome back the Dons to Ipswich with open arms.
However, in the modern game where clubs such as Bury and Bolton struggle to keep their head above water, Wimbledon should be a beacon of hope that even in a club’s darkest hour – a phoenix can still rise to achieve great things.
Last Season AFC Wimbledon heavily struggled during their last campaign and it was a miracle that they survived. The club spent 30 games marooned in the relegation places and maintained League One status with just a game to spare.
The magician behind this upturn in form was new manager Wally Downes who oversaw a streak of six wins in nine games, enough to both catch up to 21st and overtake them.
Season so far The Dons emerged with their first point of the season at the weekend after battling to a 1-1 draw with 10 -man Accrington Stanley. This was their first positive result of the campaign after successive 2-1 defeats to Rotherham and Fleetwood prior to a 4-2 penalties defeat to franchise rival MK Dons.
With Accrington also struggling, the game was viewed as one of their better chances to earn three points as games against ourselves and Sunderland closely follow. This expectation only increased when Accrington fell to 10 men and Wimbledon took a 1-0 lead.
Confidence will be fragile and an early goal for Town this evening could see the floodgates open.
System AFC Wimbledon line up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation and look to play a high-intensity pressing game to expose any weakness in the opposition’s backline.
This does leave opportunity to be hit on the counter-attack or alternatively for games to become a long ball affair.
Callum Reilly is the midfield enforcer in the centre of the park, a tough tackler and simple passer. Reilly was signed as a free agent after his release from divisional rivals Gillingham.
He is joined in centre midfield by fans favourite and academy graduate Anthony Hartigan. Hartigan fulfils the other midfield enforcement role and with no goals to his name, it would be rare to see the Dons midfield pair being a goal threat this evening.
This leaves the creativity down to the wingers in Scott Wagstaff and Nesta Guinness-Walker. Forcing these wingers into a defensive position will reduce the supply to the front pair and provide a strong foothold in the game for Ipswich to attack from.
The threat however will come from Joe Pigott, scorer on Saturday, and Watford Loanee Michael Folivi. Pigott provides the height and the nous to occupy the defence as a target man whilst Folivi will be constantly making runs in behind. Pigott however is not shy of scoring a few goals and if left unmarked will make no mistake in the area.
Former Town Anthony Wordsworth, Shane McLoughlin and Dylan Connolly have all found their way to South West London after stints with Town.
Wordsworth, the most notable of the three, is coming back from injury and is unlikely to be fit for tonight’s encounter. A shame that Wordsworth’s Town career was largely curtailed by a back injury suffered against Wolves in which was probably his best performance in our blue shirt. However, he has formed a solid career in the lower leagues.
One to Watch Scott Wagstaff – The former Charlton winger gained notoriety last year for dying his beard blue and yellow after the Dons beat West Ham in the FA Cup.
The industrious winger is in the Paul Anderson mould, not the most skilful but has an excellent wide delivery and will quickly close-down full-backs, forcing them into making a mistake. Shutting down his crosses will be key in keeping a clean sheet this evening.
Prediction Tuesday night, under the lights, where else would we rather be? Well expectation will be high and I think Town will continue their trend of scoring first-half goals.
This should calm down any nerves and force Wimbledon to attack. 3-1 to Town with Kayden Jackson to score at least his first of the season.
Safe travels to all attending this evening.
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