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04 August 2018 Venue Highbury Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Neal's message to the fans ahead of Fleetwood opener

Manager's pre-match interview before the big kick-off

3 August 2018

By Rob Cornell

Neal Ardley has urged our travelling fans to pick up exactly where they left off last season with the support that proved so important in maintaining the club's League One status. 

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's opener at Fleetwood, Neal said: "At the end of the season, when we had our seven game unbeaten run, there was a real togetherness about the group. The fans cheered and clapped everything we did and really got behind us, whether we were struggling or behind in a game – Walsall springs to mind. If we can keep that real positivity around the place that we had at the end of last season, maybe, just maybe, we might do something special.

"Everyone should be excited. It's a new season and there's been a lot of turnaround of players. We all want to get off to a good start and we've prepared them as well as we can. I think we've shown good and bad things in pre-season, but we'll be giving it our all. We'll try and build a team that fits the mould of what the fans want.

"We had a good session on Tuesday. What we tried to do on Tuesday and Thursday was to go over everything that we really felt that we needed to, what we'd been doing in pre-season. Then we just started to tidy up all the little bits that we hadn't quite done a lot of during pre-season, but are going to be important for the league campaign, particularly on Saturday. We've done everything now we can possibly do. Now we've just got to keep spirits high, keep everyone in a good place, get them out there focused on their jobs, and the rest of it will unfold!

Neal's path into league management differs from that of his opposite number Joey Barton, who took over the managerial reigns at Highbury Stadium this summer. The manager has a healthy respect for the latest breed of new managers coming through.

"I was fortunate to play in many positions," said Neal. "I played nearly all the way across the back four and all the way across the midfield, so that held me in good stead when I made the transition, but I had six years running an Academy (at Cardiff City), so when I made the transition into this job I'd done a lot of tactical stuff and a lot of managing upwards and a lot of coaching.

"Joey has come in and had an exceptional pre-season and he's implementing what he wants to do and good luck to him. This year, with the likes of Joey, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, there's a real interest in how these very good centre midfielders that have come through over the last fifteen years are going to do as managers.

"I think the first games are probably the most difficult, probably the first month is quite difficult to get a stranglehold. What ends up happening is that as you do your homework on many teams, you actually end up doing your homework on all the teams they are playing against at the same time. You get a feel for the playing style and who is playing well and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You learn more about teams as the season goes on."

The full interview with Neal, plus an interview with new signing Tyler Garratt, are both on our iFollow channel.

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Match Reports

Dons off to a flyer with opening day victory

Pigott strikes the winner at Fleetwood

4 August 2018

By Chris Slavin

AFC Wimbledon marched to an impressive opening day victory at Fleetwood with Joe Pigott striking yet another important goal for Neal Ardley’s men.

Pigott, who scored vital goals last season to help keep the club in League One after joining in January, struck a 61st minute winner to earn a 1-0 victory for Wimbledon.

All of the pre-match focus had been on Joey Barton’s first match as manager of Fleetwood, but it was Wimbledon’s overall performance that stole the show. Wimbledon had heroes all over the pitch and it was certainly tough to select a man of the match as this was a real team performance. Deji Oshilaja led Wimbledon to victory in his first competitive match as captain and it was a fine defensive display from the Dons.

Neal Ardley handed full debuts to four players with Tom King, Tennai Watson, Ben Purrington, and Mitch Pinnock all starting the game. Though Wimbledon had two new full-backs making their debuts with Watson and Purrington both getting the nod, familiar faces were at the heart of defence with Deji Oshilaja partnering Will Nightingale. Joey Barton decided to go for three debut players in his chosen 11 for his first competitive game as a manager.

AFC Wimbledon started the game brightly with Mitch Pinnock offering a good outlet on the right. Though his first effort was well over the crossbar, there was much better to come from his next meaningful contribution. The tall winger looked up and picked out Joe Pigott in space at the back post, but his header was over the crossbar. Pigott’s strike partnership with Kwesi Appiah was certainly looking promising, but the pair got in each other’s way midway through the first-half. Following a lovely through ball from Tom Soares, Wimbledon’s front pair both hesitated in getting a shot on goal and Pigott’s subsequent effort was blocked.

Wimbledon had by far the better of the first 25 minutes with Fleetwood only offering rare attacks on the break. Tom King was called into action for the first time in the 16th minute when he saved from Conor McAleny and the Dons just scrambled the rebound away from danger. New Dons captain Deji Oshilaja also showed good awareness to stop McAleny going through on goal. However, most of the action was at the other end with Wimbledon forcing a succession of corners. Though Fleetwood coped well from set-pieces, there was a good chance for Wimbledon in the 32nd minute when Pinnock swung in a lovely delivery from the right that picked out Appiah, but his header was saved by Alex Cairns.

With five minutes to go in the first-half, Wimbledon had yet another chance. This time Appiah did really well to get above his marker from another Pinnock delivery, but his header was well held by Cairns. Wimbledon could be very satisfied with an impressive first-half with only the finishing touch lacking from a first-half that ended 0-0.

Though Fleetwood attempted to up the tempo at the start of the second-half, Wimbledon held firm. When the hosts did finally break through, Tom King oozed assurance and he reacted superbly to deny Tommy Spurr the opening goal. However, Wimbledon didn’t have to really withstand too much pressure and just after the hour came the opener for Neal Ardley’s men. Ben Purrington put over a lovely cross from the left that was flicked on by Andy Barcham at the near post and Joe Pigott showed plenty of desire to bundle the ball over the line. It was not pretty, but no one in blue and yellow cared, particularly the Dons travelling support behind the goal, as they celebrated wildly.

Though Fleetwood attempted to step up their attacks in response, Wimbledon held firm with impressive last-ditch defending from the back four of Purrington, Oshilaja, Nightingale, and Watson. Tom Soares offered rock-solid protection in front of them, the holding midfielder having one of his best games in a Dons shirt. A second goal on the break appeared likely for Wimbledon with Fleetwood pushing extra bodies forward in search of an equaliser. First, Kwesi Appiah curled just wide after a fine run down the Wimbledon left, before the same player was denied by Cairns. Neal Ardley made a double change in the 76th minute with James Hanson and Scott Wagstaff entering the fray for Kwesi Appiah and Mitch Pinnock.

There was big relief for Wimbledon seven minutes from time when Bobby Grant struck a 30-yard drive that struck the inside of a post and bounced to safety. Wimbledon had certainly earned that luck though after an impressive performance on the opening day and it was a fully deserved victory. The real bonus was that all of Wimbledon’s new signings performed with real credit on the day and it was all very encouraging for the season ahead.    

AFC Wimbledon: Tom King, Tennai Watson, Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilaja, Will Nightingale, Kwesi Appiah (James Hanson), Mitch Pinnock (Scott Wagstaff), Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham (Tyler Garratt), Tom Soares, Joe Pigott.

Pic credit: Craig Galloway, Pro Sports Images.

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Ticket News

Tickets & travel for league opener at Fleetwood

Book a place on the supporters' coach for Saturday

31 July 2018

AFC Wimbledon kick off the 2018/19 season at Fleetwood Town on Saturday and you can buy tickets in advance or on the day to show your support for Neal Ardley's new-look squad.

You can also book a place on the supporters' coach to get you there and back (see details at the bottom of this page).

Seven new signings have come through the door during the summer and they will be aiming to make an immediate impact at Highbury Stadium against a side now managed by Joey Barton.

Of course, the Dons have enjoyed memorably trips to the Fylde Coast in the past, most notably back in 2011 when 600 Wimbledon supporters cheered on their team to a Conference play-off semi-final first leg victory.

Dons fans will be accommodated in either the all-seater Parkside Stand, accessed via turnstiles 1 and 2 next to the main club shop, or, for those who wish to stand, the Percy Ronson Terrace, accessed via turnstiles 1 to 3, located at the junction of Hatfield Avenue and Highbury Avenue.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Parkside Stand (seating)

  • Adult - £24
  • Over-65 - £19
  • Under-25 - £19
  • Under-16 - £8
  • Under-5 - free of charge

Percy Ronson (standing)

  • Adult - £22
  • Over-65s - £17
  • Under-25 - £17
  • Under-16 - £7
  • Under-5 - free of charge

You can order in advance from our online ticket shop. Tickets will be available on the day at the same prices.

Wheelchair users and ambulant disabled pay the appropriate price as above with registered carers admitted free of charge. Contact the club on 020 8547 3528 for more information.

Supporters' Coach

AFC Wimbledon get 2018/19 underway with a match at Fleetwood Town on Saturday and the club will be running a supporters' coach for this game.

It will leave from opposite South Wimbledon tube station at 7.00 am and from the Cherry Red Records Stadium at 7.30 am. The cost is £28 and you can book your place by contacting the club on 020 8547 3528.

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