|AFC Wimbledon 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 25th January 2022 Kick-off 19:45
Town Visit Wimbledon Aiming to Build on Weekend Win
Monday, 24th Jan 2022 16:23
Town visit AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday looking to build on Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley.
That win saw the Blues to ninth in the table, eight points off the play-offs. By the end of Tuesday’s match they could be as close as five points from the top six with Plymouth, who travel to Fleetwood, the only side above them in action.
Town’s trip to Plough Lane - the first for Blues supporters with last season's corresponding fixture played behind closed doors - is a rearranged fixture from January 8th, the initial staging of the match having been postponed as the Dons were in FA Cup third-round action.
For the first time manager Kieran McKenna will be in charge of the Blues for a match which comes only a couple of days after another, something he says he welcomes.
“It’s nice to have a Saturday-Tuesday, I’ve been looking forward to that,” he said, speaking after Saturday's match. “It’s been great to have the training time, full weeks and stuff like that but we also want to get in the rhythm of the game.
“We have a strong squad, we’ve worked a lot on the training pitch, we want the momentum of playing games now back to back.
“It’s a challenge, Saturday-Tuesday when you’re away from home, it comes around quickly, but we feel we’re ready for that, we want that and we’ll rest well, prepare as well as we can and be ready for another really tough game.”
McKenna admitted Saturday’s victory was a significant one in the wake of the 2-0 loss at Bolton the previous week: “It was an important win. I’m honestly not looking too much in terms of gaps and points and position but it was an important win for the momentum and the learning in the group.
“Obviously we had a setback last week, not a bad performance, but a setback in the result. We’ve spoken this week about different phases of the game and how we manage things, especially at times from a mental point of view.
“Just to have that win today when we were in a really difficult circumstance, 1-0 down at home against a team who are making it really difficult for us.
“To come back from that and I think deserve the 2-1 with the performance we put in, I think that’s massive for the learning and the development of the group, and it means three points and that’s very important.”
Looking ahead, he added: “We just have to keep improving. We’ve not won enough games at this point in time over the course of the season, so we are where we are in the league.
“We have to just keep improving. Every performance, we need to learn from it, we need to take lessons out of every game, get better as a group, get stronger as a group, build confidence, build the mentality of the group, keep developing our game model and our style of play.
“We just have to keep improving. If we improve on all facets mentality, if we improve tactically, improve the individuals, we think we’ll pick up points.
“I don’t plan to get too obsessed with league tables or positions at this stage of the season, there are a lot of games to play.
“I just want the boys to keep working, to come into training to put in everything they’ve got, to go into the game to put in everything they’ve got for the fans and for the club, and then we take the lessons from each game and we move on to the next one.”
McKenna may again shuffle some his personnel for the Blues’ second game in four days with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday following on Saturday.
However, he seems certain to stick with Christian Walton in goal and the back three of, from the right, Janoi Donacien, Luke Woolfenden and George Edmundson.
At wing-back, Wes Burns looks set to continue on the right with Kane Vincent-Young on the left, although it’s not impossible Matt Penney could return having missed out on Saturday with a knock but with the expectation he’d be back within a few days.
In central midfield, Tom Carroll replaced Lee Evans just before kick-off on Saturday after the Welshman suffered a groin problem in the warm-up. Carroll could keep his place, although with new signing Tyreeq Bakinson, Idris El Mizouni and Rekeem Harper other options if Evans isn’t fit enough to be involved. Skipper Samy Morsy will keep his place.
McKenna has options in the roles behind the lone central striker with Sone Aluko likely to be back having missed Saturday’s game after his partner had a baby, while Bersant Celina and Conor Chaplin both impressed against Stanley.
James Norwood dropped to the bench at the weekend and perhaps could be in line for a return to the starting XI if McKenna opts to rest Macauley Bonne.
AFC Wimbledon are currently sixth-bottom of League One and are without a win in their last seven matches in all competitions, six in the league, drawing four of those games. On Saturday they drew 1-1 at Burton Albion.
Their last win was a 2-1 victory at Accrington on December 7th, with their most recent home victory having come three days earlier when they defeated Cheltenham 4-3 in the FA Cup and their last win in League One at Plough Lane back on November 23rd when they defeated Crewe 3-2.
Overall at home this season in the league, the Dons have won only two, have drawn seven and have lost twice.
Midfielder Alex Woodyard was forced off late during Saturday’s draw with Burton and has been ruled out for a month, while centre-half Will Nightingale will be assessed before a decision is make on whether he starts having recently returned from ankle and knee problems.
Henry Lawrence and Aaron Pressley both missed out at the weekend with hamstring injuries and are set to be absent again, but midfielder Anthony Hartigan may be back after a stomach problem.
Wimbledon have sold striker Ollie Palmer to Wrexham for a fee in excess of £300,000.
Until 2019/20, Town and AFC Wimbledon had never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture, the Dons having been reformed in 2002. Since then, Town have won one of the four games, Wimbledon one and three have been draws.
In August, the Wombles scored deep in injury time to come from two goals behind to claim a 2-2 draw at Portman Road.
Joe Pigott, who joined Town after leaving the Dons in the summer, put the Blues in front from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Wes Burns had been fouled, then Burns made it 2-0 two minutes later, before Ben Heneghan pulled one back for the visitors on 58.
Town looked on their way to their first win of the campaign until Jack Rudoni scored a second for the Dons five minutes into injury time.
At Plough Lane in April last year, Town's only visit to Wimbledon's new stadium, the Wombles comfortably beat the Blues 3-0 with Will Nightingale, Rudoni and Ryan Longman scoring the goals.
Nightingale headed in the opener on 21, Rudoni nodded home the second four minutes later, then in the 28th minute Town loanee Josh Harrop was shown a straight red card for a late challenge.
Sub Longman added the third in the 86th minute to complete a thoroughly miserable evening for Town.
Striker Pigott joined the Blues last summer having left the Dons at the end of his contract having spent three-and-a-half years with Londoners, scoring 54 goals in 130 starts and 27 sub appearances.
Town kitman James Pullen was a goalkeeper at Wimbledon between August 2008 and May 2010.
Tuesday’s referee is Lee Swabey from Devon, who has shown 36 yellow cards and one red in 16 games so far this season,
Swabey’s last Town game was the 4-1 win at Wycombe in November in which he booked Toto Nsiala, Celina, for taking his shirt off while celebrating his final-seconds goal, and two home players.
He was also in control of the 0-0 draw at Shrewsbury in April in which he booked Norwood, Woolfenden and one home player.
Prior to that he was in the man in the middle for the 3-0 home defeat to Hull City in November 2020 in which he booked only Kayden Jackson.
His was also in charge of the 1-0 victory over Lincoln at Portman Road in February 2020 in which he yellow-carded Woolfenden, Flynn Downes, Emyr Huw and two Imps.
Swabey's only other Blues game was another 1-0 win, away against the MK Dons in September 2019, in which he again booked Downes and Huws, and one home player.
Squad from: Walton, Hladky, Holy, Donacien, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Burgess, Burns, Vincent-Young, Penney, Morsy, Evans, El Mizouni, Carroll, Bakinson, Harper, Edwards, Celina, Aluko, Chaplin, Bonne, Norwood, Pigott, Jackson.
Photo: Matchday Images
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