Wimbledon visit Oakwell Stadium on Saturday to face a Barnsley side that Neal Ardley has described as an “acid test” for the Dons.
The Dons head to Yorkshire buoyed by a three-match unbeaten run and with a fully-fit squad. However, Neal’s team are up against the early league leaders who are keen to make a quick return to the Championship following relegation last season.
Daniel Stendel, previously a player and coach of German side Hannover 96, took over as the Tykes new Head Coach at the start of July. He’s got off to the perfect start in charge of Barnsley, guiding them to a 4-0 victory over Oxford United on the opening day and followed up with a 2-0 win at Bradford City last weekend. However, they suffered their first defeat and conceded their first goal of the new campaign, going out of the Carabao Cup, following a 3-1 defeat at Blackpool in midweek.
Wimbledon entertain Sunderland in League One and Premier League West Ham in the Carabao Cup before the end of the month, but first the focus is on maintaining a three-match unbeaten start to the season tomorrow. The new-look side won 2-1 at Fratton Park against Portsmouth on Tuesday, to set up an eye-catching tie in the next round of the League Cup.
The Dons return to League action, having won at 1-0 at Fleetwood on the opening day and having taken a point from a goalless draw against Coventry City in the first home game.
“This will be the first real acid test for us to see whether we’re near anywhere we want to be. We’re under no illusions that Barnsley are going to be one of the strongest teams. Anyone who finishes above them will be there or thereabouts.
“I think if you spoke to any Oxford fan, they’d tell you how good they were against them. Barnsley could have won by a lot more than four. Bradford tried to come up with a game plan to beat them last week and were comfortably beaten by them. They’re extremely high-intensity, 4-4-2 and the pace they possess in their attacks is excellent. They ask loads of questions of you, press high and they’ve got good players that have played at Championship level.
Andreas Winkler (Barnsley’s Assistant Head Coach)
“We know they’ve not conceded a goal in the league, so they have a good defence. They will be well prepared for us and our style and they will probably know a little bit more about our philosophy, so it will be a tough game.
“We will try to stick to our plan – to wear the opponent down with our possession play – which we didn’t do too well against Blackpool in the second half, but if we can do that against Wimbledon then I’m confident of a good match. On Saturday it’s a new match, a new opponent and a new tactic, so we’re very excited to see how our young squad will get on.”
Barnsley full-back Zeki Fryers and winger Ryan Hedges are continuing their respective recoveries, but are a long way off being back in contention. Lloyd Isgrove, who missed large parts of last season through injury, has a sore muscle and will be assessed before kick-off.
Neal Ardley confirmed that Andy Barcham had shrugged off a toe injury in time to be considered for the trip to South Yorkshire. The winger missed Tuesday's Carabao Cup victory, but he is back in contention and the manager also reported that centre-back Terell Thomas and midfielder Liam Trotter had shaken off knocks.
Form guide (last six, starting with most recent)
Barnsley – LWWLWL
AFC Wimbledon - WDWDDD
Barnsley midfielder George Moncur made 20 appearances and scored two goals, when on loan to AFC Wimbledon from West Ham United in 2012.
Top scorers (all competitions)
Barnsley - Victor Adeboyejo and Mamadou Thiam (2)
AFC Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (2)
Dons supporters will be accommodated in the North Stand for this game. You can pay on the day with tickets at the following prices:
Adult - £25
65 and over - £18
Young adult 19-21 - £18
Please note it is cash ONLY on the North Stand turnstiles and Juvenile tickets (18 and under) WILL NOT be available on the day.
For further information please read the Visiting Supporters Guide.
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