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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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03 August 2019 Venue The Cherry Red Records Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Wally calls for strong resolve ahead of Rotherham opener

Team news and quotes from both managers

2 August 2019

Wally Downes has called on his players to replicate the strength of character that proved to be so important in the survival stakes last season.

Following the Great Escape last time around, The Dons start the new campaign with a match against one of the League One promotion favourites and Paul Warne’s men are likely to provide a stern test at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday. Our manager knows that a Wimbledon performance full of the same grit and determination that was so apparent at the end of last season is likely to be required again.

Team News

Goalkeeper Joe McDonnell has been signed on a short-term basis and he will go straight into the squad for the match against Rotherham. Take a look below at a short video interview with Joe, including a fun intro from Anthony Wordsworth!

Wally Downes said that it’s too early for Adam Roscrow to make his debut as he has only just recovered from a groin injury. Wordsworth is ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury.

For Rotherham, club record signing Freddie Ladapo could make his league debut. The 26-year-old signed from Plymouth in June, and he should lead the forward line for The Millers on Saturday. Other new signings for Rotherham include Newcastle United playmaker Dan Barlaser and experienced Wigan midfielder Shaun MacDonald. Left-back Trevor Clarke, who was signed from Shamrock Rovers, is a doubt though after he suffered a training ground injury. Danish goalkeeper Daniel Iversen is on hand for a debut, having made a season-long loan switch from Leicester.

Wally Downes

“With the amount of new players we've had come through the door, it’s about how the players gel together. The message is constant and I’m not saying anything different from what I did last season. I just want us to do what we did after I came in last season, but to do it better. The responsibility for that is firmly on the players. I haven’t changed my message, the work we’ve done has been the same. It’s about the players having the ability to start on a level playing field and be strong enough as a group to do what we did last season and give ourselves more of a chance of success.

“Rotherham are a very big side with no player under 6ft and they have a couple of 6 ft 4 inch players, so I think they will be looking to be very dominant in the air. They are very direct from what we’ve seen of them and they’ve made a great fist of it in the Championship when they’ve been in that division in recent seasons. When they’ve come down, they’ve gone straight back up again. Rotherham are very strong side in this division and they are very close to being a regular Championship team. They’ve added to the squad in the summer and I think they will be a big threat in the division this season.”

Though the squad have been worked hard in the build-up to 2019/20, there's still been time for fun and games at the training ground! Take a look at the video below for an example of this.

Paul Warne

“We’re aiming for the top six. Nigel Clough said the other day that there are 18 teams who think they’ll get in the top six – so 12 of us are going to be disappointed. There’s some really good teams in League One this year. I might be wrong but I don’t think the Championship is as strong this year as it was last year, but I think League One is.

“For us to get into the top six will be a big ask. Obviously if we finish seventh, and you ask me has it been a successful season, then no it hasn’t because we haven’t achieved what we tried to do. But then last season we tried to survive and we didn’t, but at the end of the season I didn’t have any shame. We gave it our best. If there’s six better teams than us, and above us, there’s no complaints from me. But hopefully there isn’t six. Pre-season has gone really well and we’ve recruited pretty well. I’ve been happy with what the lads have done in pre-season, but more importantly I’ve been happy with how they’ve got on because they’ve got to spend the next 10 months together.”

Previous meetings

Rotherham 2-0 Wimbledon (2 February 2018)

An early goal from former Dons loanee Michael Smith put the hosts ahead in a season that ended with promotion to the Championship for Rotherham. Though Wimbledon threatened an equaliser in the second-half through Joe Pigott, an injury-time goal from David Ball sealed victory for Rotherham. It was Wimbledon’s first defeat of 2018 after an impressive points haul in January and The Dons went onto seal League One survival in the penultimate match of the season at Doncaster.

Wimbledon 3-1 Rotherham (17 October 2017)

A stunning hat-trick from Lyle Taylor earned a deserved victory for Wimbledon. Taylor put The Dons in front under the lights at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, but Rotherham came back into it and equalised through Joe Newell in the 70th minute. There was no stopping Taylor on the night though and he struck in the 85th minute to put Wimbledon back in front, before netting again in stoppage time.

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Match Reports

Late goal defeats Wimbledon after fine second-half fightback

Joe Pigott's goal was not enough to earn a point against Rotherham

3 August 2019

AFC Wimbledon's much-improved second-half display was not enough to earn a point against one of the teams expected to challenge for promotion.

Joe Pigott's soaring header levelled matters five minutes after the break and Wimbledon then threatened to go and win it, before Clark Robertson struck to earn a 2-1 win for Rotherham United.

The Dons had offered so much in the second-half and it was a real shame that the improvement was not rewarded with at least a point.

There was a significant inclusion on the AFC Wimbledon team sheet at 2.00 pm with Nik Tzanev coming in for his full league debut between the sticks. With Nathan Trott ruled out due to injury, it meant that Joe McDonnell was back on the bench for Wimbledon after signing on a short-term deal yesterday. Wally Downes handed three other players their debuts with new signings Luke O’Neill, Nesta Guinness-Walker, and Callum Reilly all straight into the starting 11.

Our manager had warned in the build-up that United would provide a very physical test of Wimbledon’s resolution and that’s the way it turned out from the outset. Clark Robertson fired well over with the away side’s first effort, but the visitors came closer as the first-half progressed. A swift move down the left ended with Kyle Vassell picking out Freddie Ladapo, who seemed certain to mark his debut with a goal, but Tzanev had other ideas as he pulled off a brilliant point-blank save. In a first half hour dominated by the visitors, former Dons loanee Michael Smith headed just wide after more good play on the flank by Vassell. Guinness-Walker had also performed with credit to limit the threat of tricky right winger Matt Olosunde.

Wimbledon had barely been in the United half during the first half an hour as the visitors continued to dominate. Matt Crooks tried his luck with a shot that Tzanev did well to hold, but there was no reprieve for Wimbledon shortly afterwards. It was a simple goal in its execution as Wimbledon paid the ultimate price for failing to deal with a corner. Joe Mattock delivered a deep flag kick from United’s right that Smith rose highest to meet and his header was swept home from close range by Ladapo. At this stage, Wimbledon had to work hard to limit the damage from a United side showing no signs of settling for what they had.

It had certainly been a difficult first-half for Wimbledon as the visitors had powered forward on the attack for long spells. However, an encouraging end to the first-half at least offered a bit of hope for Wimbledon. Luke O’Neill struck a 30-yard free-kick that looked goal-bound, but it was deflected wide, before Callum Reilly’s shot flashed just wide after a good move.

United had shown in the first-half exactly why they are regarded as one of the promotion favourites, but Wimbledon’s start to the second-half turned the match on its head. With Reilly and Hartigan now earning a greater share of midfield possession, Wimbledon started to drive forward and the equaliser arrived in superb style. The identity of the goalscorer was certainly no surprise with Joe Pigott the man to get it, but he will be hard pressed in his career to score a better header than this one. It was a quite superb towering header from the tall striker, who rose highest in the box to meet a corner with a header that left United goalkeeper Daniel Iversen with absolutely no chance.

Wimbledon’s equaliser came in the 50th minute and now it was the away side’s turn to defend for their lives. In a huge contrast to the first-half, Wimbledon threatened to go in front. Michael Folivi did well to get in behind United’s defence and he cut the ball back for Hartigan, who poked just wide at the second attempt. Minutes later, Hartigan came close again. It came about after lovely play down the left flank from Guinness-Walker, who danced around his marker before finding Hartigan and this time the midfielder’s shot was deflected over the crossbar.

Despite Wimbledon’s second-half domination, United came very close to going back in front. Indeed, both sets of supporters could barely comprehend how they were not back in front after defensive work from Paul Kalambayi that was simply unbelievable. Following a flowing United move, Crooks picked out Ladapo, who struck and waited for the net to bulge, but Kalambayi showed superb athleticism to get back and clear off the line. In an entertaining match, both sides pressed for another goal. Though Ben Wiles forced Tzanev into a fine save, Wimbledon threatened to take the lead when O’Neill shot just wide. Then Nightingale’s soaring header flashed just over the crossbar.

Wimbledon conceded what turned out to be the winner in agonising fashion. A corner found its way all the way through to Clark Robertson just inside the area and his shot had just enough on it to cross the line in the 84th minute with Shane McLoughlin unable to stop it. Considering Wimbledon’s second-half display, it was a harsh defeat for Wimbledon and there’s a whole week to wait for a chance to put it right with Fleetwood away up next.   

Nik Tzanev, Luke O'Neill, Rod McDonald, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas (Kwesi Appiah), Anthony Hartigan (Shane McLoughlin), Michael Folivi (Dylan Connolly), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Paul Kalambayi, Callum Reilly, Joe Pigott.

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Ticket News

Match Details: Snap-up your ticket for The Dons v Rotherham

Watch Wimbledon start the 2019/20 season against The Millers

2 August 2019

AFC Wimbledon start the 2019/20 season on home turf against League One new boys Rotherham United on Saturday and we have a limited number of terrace tickets still remaining.

After masterminding The Great Escape last season, Wally Downes will be aiming to lead The Dons to an opening day victory on Saturday at The Cherry Red Records Stadium.

Tickets are still remaining, so don’t miss out on your chance to come along and show your support for Wally’s boys!

The picture above shows Joe Pigott being congratulated by his team-mates after his goal at Hampton last Saturday and our top scorer from last season will be aiming to get off the mark quickly this time around.

Below is a summary of ticket availability and other match arrangements ahead of the game:

Tickets

Seat tickets and the Chemflow End are sold out for this game, but there is still availability for the RyGas Stand (just £17 for adults). Buy now from our online ticket shop. Advance tickets are available until 11.00 am on Saturday. The collection point for pre-paid tickets is the white booth in Jack Goodchild Way. Subject to availability, you can pay on the day for the RyGas terrace.

Bars

Supporters are welcome to get here early as the bars will be open from 12 noon. A wide selection of drinks will be served, including the following real ales:

Plough Lane Ale

Wimbledon Copper Leaf

Wimbledon SW19 Summer Ale

Rotherham supporters will be welcome to utilise the bar areas before the game. Supporters will be able to watch the live League 2 match between Salford City and Stevenage from 12.30 pm and the evening match between Nottingham Forest and West Brom will be on TV screens from 5.30pm.

Programmes

Your full match day programme is back for 2019/20 and is available at the usual price of £3. Terell Thomas is our cover star on Saturday! Featured inside is an extensive interview with new right-back Luke O’Neill, who explains why he chose a move to The Dons after interest from other clubs. Also included in the programme is Chief Executive Joe Palmer’s update on the crowdfunding campaign for the new stadium, plus plenty of features and news.

Golden Goals

Our valuable club fundraiser resumes on Saturday and look out for Golden Goals sellers around the ground for your chance to win £100. There are some changes to Golden Goals, an initiative which is generously sponsored by Chemflow Total Solutions, for next season. Please refer to the Dons Trust website for more information on these changes.

Dons Trust Kiosk

Rob Crane, Edward Leek and Mark Davis will be at the kiosk, offering Dons Trust members and fans interested in the work of the DT a chance to come along and find out more about the work of the Trust. This includes work that has been going on in relation to the stadium over the summer.

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