Blues Travel to Wimbledon Aiming For Quick Return to Top Six Monday, 10th Feb 2020 16:26
Town travel to face AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night looking to make a swift return to the top six.
Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Sunderland saw the Blues drop to seventh, the first time since the opening day of the season that they have been out of the automatic promotion or play-off places.
Speaking after the defeat to the Black Cats, boss Paul Lambert said Town will now be in among the chasing teams rather than those being chased, as has been the case for most of the campaign up to now.
“Maybe we have to hunt other teams now rather than the other way around,” he said.
“We have to hunt teams, for the first time we’re out of the top six this season, sometimes that can help you, at certain times. You have to go on a run, we have to go on a run.
“It’s not a league like the Premier League where Liverpool are so far ahead it looks like you’ll never catch them. There are still a lot of teams in this division who can catch up."
He added: “As I said before, now we become the hunter, now we have to hunt teams down and see if they can handle being in there. There’s a long, long way to go, 14 games to go. We have to start to win.”
The Blues make their first ever visit to Kingsmeadow having fallen to three successive third tier defeats for the first time since the opening month of the 1956/57 season.
Despite falling to the third of those defeats on Saturday, Lambert was pleased with the performance in the first half and is unlikely to stray too far from the team which started against the Black Cats, although with one or two changes on the cards.
Tomas Holy will continue in goal behind the back three of skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden.
The wing-backs are unlikely to change with Gwion Edwards suspended for another match due to his 10 yellow cards and Luke Garbutt not expected to be back from his thigh strain. Myles Kenlock and Janoi Donacien will continue on the left and right respectively.
Lambert could bring Emyr Huws back into the XI in midfield for Cole Skuse alongside Flynn Downes with Alan Judge or Jon Nolan ahead of them.
Up front, Lambert could bring Kayden Jackson back into the team, perhaps alongside James Norwood, with Will Keane moving to the bench.
Wimbledon's on-loan Brentford defender Mads Bech Sorensen is a big doubt having suffered a head injury in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Fleetwood.
Betters news for the Dons is that Scott Wagstaff is over a calf problem, however, ex-Blue Anthony Wordsworth will miss out having aggravated a similar injury.
“This is going to be a hard run of matches, we know that, but we keep ourselves in games,” manager Glyn Hodges told his club's official site.
“We have a plan for each one, but I’m not going to look too far ahead. We are just focusing on playing against Ipswich tomorrow.
"I want us to have energy and we showed that in abundance at the weekend. Hopefully, our players are recovered in time and I might freshen it up a little bit, just to put some fresh legs in there.
“They need to be prepared, and they need to be relaxed and play. I don’t want them to get tense, to look over their shoulders at the run of games.
"In this league any team can be beaten. I mentioned after the game on Saturday about the young boys playing without fear. Hopefully, that spreads to the seniors. We ask questions, we play our football, and we cause teams problems. We have to continue in that vein.
“They [Town] are a good side. We’ve looked at how they play and what they do. We’ve covered that this morning and I think it’s still in the back of our minds the way that we lost at Portman Road.
“We put in a good performance that night and we were unlucky to get anything out it. We need to be at the same level again.”
Town and AFC Wimbledon had never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture since the Dons’ formation in 2002 until the game at Portman Road in August when Jackson’s goal deep, deep in injury time saw the Blues come from behind to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory.
The Dons went ahead via Nesta Guinness-Walker in the 41st minute in a poor first period from Town.
But the Blues were much better in the second half, equalising through Norwood in the 81st minute before Jackson smashed in the late winner.
The Dons squad includes three former Blues. Shane McLoughlin, who made one Championship sub appearance and one League Cup start for Town having come through the academy. The Irishman, who joined the Dons in January 2018, netted his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Fleetwood.
Wordsworth was at Town between January 2013 and June 2015, making 10 starts and 10 sub appearances, scoring twice.
Irish winger Dylan Connolly, who is currently on loan at Bradford, moved to Portman Road from Shelbourne in January 2015 before departing for Bray Wanderers in July 2016 without making a senior appearance.
Wimbledon have won just one of their last seven and are 20th in the table with a home record of won five, drawn six and lost four.
Following Saturday’s defeat at Sunderland, Town now have the second best away form in League One this season having taken 28 points from their 17 games to Rotherham’s 29 from 15.
Tuesday’s referee is Craig Hicks from Surrey, who has shown 72 yellow cards and four red in 23 games so far this season.
Hicks’s last Town game was the 0-0 draw with Gillingham on Boxing Day in which he showed yellow cards to Toto Nsiala, Edwards, Judge and Norwood.
His only previous competitive Town match prior to that was the Leasing.com Trophy tie with Tottenham’s U21s in September last year in which he showed just the one yellow card to one of the visitors.
Hicks also took charge of Town’s July 2017 pre-season friendly against Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium, which the home side won 2-1.
The Kent side, who had current Blues keeper Holy in goal, went in front via a soft penalty awarded by Hicks, who kept his cards in his pocket throughout, won by ex-Town midfielder Lee Martin following a challenge by Blues captain Chambers and converted by Tom Eaves.
3 points is a must here Mr Lambert nothing else will do, we haven't done very well being hunted(apart from sides out side the top 8) and now it remains to be seen what we do when we have to hunt whatever that means i feel you are getting a wee bit desperate!! in that case pick an attack minded side that will go for the points not put negativity in the side and hope to nick a point it's too late for that and we have had enough of that crap in the past!! Promotion or bust dear boy.
You are a prize plonker, Lambert. Look at the maths. Look at the number of games left. You let a six point lead lead turn into being 9 points of the pace. Automatic promotion had gone. For the pay-offs we need to score a shed load of goals and go a winning run. Something we haven't achieved all season. If we did manage to scrape into play-offs how are we going to win? Three draws and a penalty shoot out? Clutching at straws and talking complete nonsense. Something you achieved easily all season.
Let the ‘hunting begin’ lol. A very winnable game and a very welcome 3 pts is the target. Failure to win, then even the more optimistic amongst us will be questioning our faith, or blind faith as the case maybe.
This man is walking a tightrope now, he has been booted out of several managerial appointments, we have given him a wonderful opportunity to manage itfc,a job that loads of managers would love, I really do not think he appreciates it..if we don't get promoted he should go .
Thought Holy had a good game and distro was good on Saturday. Downes, Nolan and Skuse seem a good combo in midfield. But we misfired up front. So I would play 3 - 5 - 1 - 1. Same defence, midfield as I described with Sears and Donacian either side. Then Judge in behind Jackson.
Idea being to control possession and break quickly on the flanks with Donacian and Sears, and let Judge have a free role and see what he can do.
I think we have the makings of a good team and it's just confidence missing .
Norwood and Keane need to reflect on the fact that they need to work harder and be more clinical.
I hate the term 'must win' as in my 45yrs of supporting Town I don't recall us ever winning one. It really does feel as if nothing short of 6pts will do this week tho. So with that in mind a 1-0 defeat tomorrow followed by a 2-1 defeat to Burton wont do us any favours. I've gone past the point of caring about what the side or formation will be,as collectively nobody is proving to be worthy of not being dropped. For the record Skuse was our best player at Sunderland and Kenlock looked as if he needed a taxi to get back into our half if and when a move broke down. He looks seriously unfit....even by Sunday league standards. Oh for a team containing a fully fit Huws, Bishop and Lankaster and a manager prepared to give the very gifted Dobra a few more opportunities. Teams may actually fear us a little then,and we may actually create one or 2 chances.
I am convinced that there is something in the water at Portman Road which seems to make all the staff management and players believe in fairies goblins and other magical beasts They seem to live in a parallel universe and can't see the blindingly obvious fact that their joint efforts ARE JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH to consider any possibility of a play off finish now They have not been good enough since the other more accomplished managers sussed this one out early on and realised that he had no plan B and in most cases no plan A to start with Hopes have been dashed once again and the inevitable defeat is on the cards for tomorrow night
Lambert completely delusional (as normal) Lets face facts 30 games played and were 7th, not bad some might say ! But split those results and first 15 we were top, second 15 in isolation were 20th! That is a catastrophic drop in form by anybodys standards and if that continues we will be lucky to be in the top half yet alone top six.
Has to be 6 points from the next two fixtures. No excuses. If we match Wimbledon and Burton for effort, we’ll win them both. My big fear is that the Club isn’t that bothered about promotion. While the Championship means more TV money and gate receipts, the wage bill, loan fees (and maybe even a transfer fee or two) would eradicate that and leave Evans with a bigger loss to move onto the MEG books. Then there’s the players...Chambers, Skuse, Donacian, Kenlock, Wilson, Nolan, Jackson, Norwood, Holy, Judge and others probably not good enough : promotion does little for them : that leaves Garbutt, Wolf and Downes, all of which will be playing in the Championship next year regardless. In other words, how many of our players really want it enough.
Sick of people saying this is a must win.... lose against Wimbledon what then? Does that mean the next one is a must win? And let's have it right lambert, surely Wimbledon are more "hunters" as you say than we are? They have more teams to "hunt" at fourth from bottom dont they? Little less talk and more action would be great. It's just so annoying how we let it slip from where we were a few months ago! In all seriousness though, we should be thumping teams like Wimbledon if we are to have any chance of going up. Stop talking and DO IT. Coyb
I'm commenting on here for the last time, sick and tired of the negativity and pessimism that plagues this page, and I'm tired of the lack of support from many of you. We are only five points off an automatic promotion place, with a very good run-in from here on in. The top teams play each other as well. I still have no doubt we'll be promoted in a top two place. It's funny when we're winning you all lord the team and say how good we are. When we lose you are all calling for the manager's head, Evans to leave, and that Chambers is the worst player we've ever had. Mark my words, you'll all be eating yours at the end of the season, then you can look back over these pages and hang your heads in shame. It's been fun, but I'm not putting up with this anymore. Goodbye everyone!
I watched a very good, fast, entertaining game today. A 2-2 draw for our U23 team v Watford. Our visitors, young players, top of the table, of a Premiership club, against young players of a 1st Division club. Our standard of play matched them throughout the game, and would have gained all points had our keeper not slipped on the turf to allow a soft equaliser in the last minute. There is a real pattern to their play. Our Academy Managers are doing their stuff, time for PL and his staff and squad selected, to up their game. Our young players and supporters of the club NOW DEMAND IT!
Bangalore blues, I'd consider myself one of the "glass half full" guys who believed we'd survive last season up until it was impossible. I'd love to share your optimism for this year but with every ridiculous cliche that Lambert mumbles I'm finding it more difficult. I'm not an Evan's hater and I think Chambo has done a decent job this season, but my support for Lambert is being seriously tested. Every post match interview leaves me baffled. This article seriously questions the intelligence of us fans. Are we really supposed to believe it's going to help our promotion chances by dropping out of the top six and to our lowest position all season? Can we only "hunt" teams (by which I can only assume he means taking the game to the opposition) after a poor run? Evening our wins this season have been largely poor performances. And rotation? Isn't this the time we were supposed to reap the benefits? Clinging on to my faith by the skin of my teeth but I'm afraid Lambert is doing his upmost to take it away.