Wimbledon return to a venue on Saturday that’s been a happy hunting ground since promotion back to the Football League, but Glyn Hodges is under no illusions about the size of the task tomorrow.
Gillingham have not lost a league match since visiting the Cherry Red Records Stadium on 23 November. The Dons triumphed 1-0 on that occasion, thanks to a Scott Wagstaff strike (Joe Pigott is pictured getting above our former captain Barry Fuller to win a header in that match). Wimbledon go to Priestfield Stadium aiming for a third victory on the road this season and in pursuit of vital points in the battle to stay in League One.
Our manager is expecting a physical challenge against a Gills side that still have an outside chance of reaching the League One play-offs.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus team news, and a look back at previous visits to Gillingham, ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“It’s going to be a fight. We know that they play at a high tempo, they play in a certain way, and you have to be combative, and be ready to stand up to them, as we did in the first game. We are expecting a really hard game, but there are no easy matches in this division.
“In the first match they put us under immense pressure and it was on the back of an extra-time game in the FA Cup. They played 120 minutes on the Tuesday and then came out of the blocks quickly on the Saturday, so they are obviously a fit side. They will probably be fresher than what they were then. It’s just about how we set-up and if we go with that belief and stick to our game-plan. If we do that, we can cause them problems.”
Paul Raynor (Assistant Manager)
“That (defeat against Wimbledon) was a hard one to take because other than putting the ball in the net, we put in a really strong performance. Although we lost, people started to believe that day because we played particularly well, we were on the front foot, and we created chances. We didn’t get the rub of the green from the referee, but we saw the little shoots of what was to come and we’ve taken it on since then. We didn’t enjoy getting beaten that day, just the manner of it. We hated that feeling and we’ve not had it since. That doesn’t mean to say we’ve been delighted with every performance. Fifteen unbeaten is great but we’ve thrown away some points here and there.
“I know Glyn Hodges very well. I worked with him at Sheffield United’s academy for a couple of years, and he’s a very good coach and an experienced guy who’s got them well-organised, well-drilled, and buying into what he wants them to do. We’re high on confidence, they need some points, they’ll feel they’ve turned us over once and can do it again. It makes for an interesting game.”
Glyn Hodges was due to check on the fitness of Paul Osew (calf) before selecting his squad to face Gillingham. Though Anthony Wordsworth has made good progress from a calf injury, it’s too soon for him to be considered for a first-team return. Paul Raynor reported no fresh injury worries for Gillingham, ahead of the game.
Previous visits to Gillingham
The Dons have yet to taste defeat in the last five visits to Priestfield Stadium. The two victories came over six years apart with the first achieved in dramatic circumstances back in January 2012 when Wimbledon won 4-3, thanks to a late winner by Jack Midson after Gillingham had led 3-1. The other win came at the start of last season when Joe Pigott scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory. Take a look below at the highlights from that memorable 4-3 win, which came during our first season back in the Football League.
Played for both
The Dons are likely to have four former Gills players in the squad tomorrow. Callum Reilly, Luke O’Neill, Scott Wagstaff, and Joe Pigott (loan) all previously played for the Kent club. Of course, Barry Fuller served Wimbledon with distinction, leading us into League One in 2016, and leaving us in 2018 after a five-year spell that included 232 appearances in all competitions. His committed displays at right-back earned him a Player of the Year award and made him a real favourite with our supporters. In case you missed it, we interviewed Scott Wagstaff in the build-up to his Gillingham return and you can watch the video below.
Dons supporters can pay on the day for tomorrow’s game. See our previous ticket announcement for prices and please note that it’s cash only on the day.
If you’re not travelling to Kent, join Mikey T and Rob Cornell for live audio commentary from Priestfield Stadium. You can access commentary via our iFollow service.