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27 March 2021 Venue Plough Lane Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Robbo relishes the pressure as he prepares the boys for Northampton

Head Coach in positive mood ahead of key match

26 March 2021

Mark Robinson said he is enjoying the pressure as he aims to get the best out of the current squad for the all-important run-in.

With 11 games to play, the Dons are three points from safety with Saturday's opponents Northampton just outside the drop zone. However, with games in hand on the teams around them, Wimbledon's players know that their destiny is still in their own hands.

The challenge tomorrow will be from far from easy against a Northampton side showing signs of revival in recent weeks, as underlined by an impressive midweek win against Oxford United. Chairman Kelvin Thomas recently provided his backing to Caretaker Manager Jon Brady, stating that he would be in charge until the end of the season, and they have won three out of the last six matches. In the build-up to Saturday's match, Robbo increased positivity around the training ground by inviting Terry Brown to meet the players, a man who knows all about success with Wimbledon. In his interview, our Head Coach talked in upbeat terms about dealing with pressure situations, and his belief in the players to deliver.

Below are quotes from both camps, plus a look at previous meetings, and stats. 

Mark Robinson

“We are where we are and people keep saying to me, ‘how are you?’, which is nice because I think they are concerned, but I am loving coming into work every day, working with the players and the staff. The environment is fantastic and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Obviously, we want more points on the board and that will come, but in terms of pressure I have always put myself in high pressure situations outside of football, which I think is serving me well now. I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.

“When you say ’80 per cent us, 20 per cent them’ people think you are not worrying about the opposition enough, but that 20 per cent has to be looking at that real detail. It’s so key that if we want to get it right with the style of football that we want to play – making the players feel confident and empowered – then so much of what we are talking about is about what we do. Otherwise they will go out onto the pitch just worrying about the opposition. It’s key that our players realise the threats that the opposition can offer, collectively and as individuals, but it’s also key that they realise what good players they are and what they can achieve.

“Looking at the bigger picture, I think it’s key to have a style of football where you get more goals from everywhere. If you are reliant on one or two players and you lose one of them due to injury you could be losing 80 per cent of your effectiveness. Although you always want your men who score goals, if you can play a style that involves other players chipping in with five or six then you will still remain an effective outfit if a forward gets injured. Moving forward, that’s something we will be looking for – more goals from all over the pitch. At the same time, you don’t want to lose the goals from people like Joe and Ryan.”

Jon Brady

“Each game is important and we need our performance levels to be consistent. We need to believe in what we are trying to do and in our style of play and if we get our performance right then the rest takes care of itself.

“We go into every game trying to win, our preparation is all about us and if we are right we feel we can get another three points whoever we play. It won’t be easy and we know we won’t get everything our own way but our focus is on us and what we can do.

“Tuesday night was where we want to be as a group, when we took over we wanted to change the energy and style of play and we got that against Oxford. Last Saturday against Crewe was a reminder of what happens if we revert back, but on Tuesday we were back to the levels we want. Now we need to be consistent with that.”

“Tuesday night showed the character of the group and what they can do if everyone is switched on, we just need that level of consistency and that's the challenge for us.”

Last time out

Wimbledon 2-2 Charlton Athletic

Northampton 1-0 Oxford

Form guide (last six, starting with most recent)

Wimbledon DDDLDD

Northampton WLDLWW

Top scorers

Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (15)

Northampton – Ryan Watson (7)

Previous meetings

Since promotion back to the league in 2011, the Dons have won just one out of 15 matches versus Northampton, so that means we are due another victory! That one and only win came back in October 2017 when Harry Forrester struck the only goal at Sixfields Stadium. Seven of the remainder have been drawn, including the opening match of this league season, a 2-2 draw that started with a quick-fire goal by Ethan Chislett – after just 20 seconds.

Going further back!

Saturday 28th August 1982: Division Four

Wimbledon (1) 1 Ketteridge 44

Northampton Town (1) 1 Syrett 7

Surely none of the 1,702 fans inside Plough Lane almost four decades ago could have any idea that they were witnessing the start of one of football’s greatest success stories, writes Stephen Crabtree. The tales of the Crazy Gang have passed into legend now but back then the start of the new football season was greeted with apathy in SW19. The national game was in the doldrums and the just relegated Dons’ draw with a hardly impressive Northampton Town side failed to raise expectations about the months ahead.

With Gary Peters, Tony Tagg and Chris Dibble making their debuts, the Dons should have made the Cobblers pay after their goalkeeper, Neil Freeman, was sent off with seven minutes to go for handling the ball outside the box to deny Dibble a goal scoring chance. But they were unable to fashion a clear opening after Steve Ketteridge’s close range effort had equalised Dave Syrett’s seventh minute goal.

It was a disappointing result for a Wimbledon side that were amongst the bookies’ tips for the title. “They made us favourites to go down last year, so let us hope they are right again,” manager Dave Bassett quipped. “My adage is: win every game and you will be champions.” It took a mid-season switch to a more direct style of play to achieve that goal and just four years after landing the 4th Division title humble Plough Lane was playing host to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.

Dons; Beasant, Peters, Thomas, Galliers, Tagg, Morris, Evans, Ketteridge, Leslie, Downes, Dibble.

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Match Reports

Pigott strikes vital winner in dramatic finale at Plough Lane

Nik Tzanev saves a penalty deep into injury-time

27 March 2021

AFC Wimbledon earned a dramatic victory today with an 89th minute strike by Joe Pigott proving decisive.

That only told half the story though as Nik Tzanev's contribution was every bit as important, the New Zealand international diving to his right to make a brilliant penalty save in the fifth minute of injury-time.

The nature of this 1-0 victory yet again highlighted Wimbledon's welcome habit of scoring late goals, something that's going be pivotal during the battle to stay up.

Mark Robinson made just one change to his starting line-up after the draw versus Charlton last Saturday. Jack Rudoni was recalled into the midfield in place of Ayoub Assal, as the Dons searched for a first victory since the 1-0 win versus Gillingham, which was achieved thanks to a late cracker by ‘Rudi’. Northampton came into this match on the back of an impressive midweek victory versus Oxford United and their recent 0-0 draw at Doncaster Rovers showed what they were capable of on their travels.

With so much at stake in this game – just three points separated the two sides before kick-off – it was unsurprising that it was a cagey first 15 minutes with little goalmouth action. The Dons had a good spell midway through the first-half, attempting to spread the ball around and use the attacking instincts of full-backs Luke O’Neill and Cheye Alexander, both attempting to provide width against a massed Northampton defence. Alexander produced a fine run down the left, turning his marker inside out on one occasion, but his cross was cut out. O’Neill then showed his fine crossing ability from the other flank when a corner was played short to him, and the full-back’s delivery was headed wide by Will Nightingale. That was the closest either side had come in the first 25 minutes.

The Dons had a great chance to take the lead in the 28th minute when Ryan Longman, just a week after his bizarre goal versus Charlton, was gifted the ball again by the visiting defence. This time it was a lot harder as Longman was 35 yards out, and he powered through on goal, before being denied by Northampton keeper Jonathan Mitchell. Just after the half hour mark came a delay to this match with one of the assistant referees having to go off injured. Following a delay of six minutes, one of our match day volunteers Dennis Lowndes answered the call! Dennis, a qualified referee, took on the role of fourth official with a replacement assistant referee coming on.

The match restarted with Wimbledon continuing on the front foot against a Northampton side showing little ambition. Longman showed his threat once again with an impressive change of pace down the right, before cutting inside, but his shot was over the crossbar. Rudoni also had a shot deflected wide as Wimbledon ended the half on top. Alex Woodyard had intelligently found pockets of space on the right during the first-half, but Northampton had defended stoutly, demonstrating the resilience that earned a clean sheet at the home of promotion-chasers Doncaster recently.

The second-half started in a similar pattern, Wimbledon dominating possession, but finding it difficult to create clear-cut chances against a well-drilled Northampton defence. There was a half chance a few minutes after the break when Rudoni latched onto a loose ball in the box, but his shot was deflected wide. As the time ticked towards the hour mark, Northampton had their best spell of the match, finally showing a bit more attacking ambition. The visitors had a decent chance from a free-kick in a central area after a foul by Woodyard, but Sam Hoskins drove the ball over the crossbar. It then required Luke O’Neill to put his body on the line for the team as he did well to block a goal-bound shot from Joseph Mills. Northampton’s best chance so far followed when Mills delivered a fine free-kick from the right that picked out Peter Kioso, but he headed wide from close-range.

With Wimbledon having struggled to get going as an attacking force in the second-half, Mark Robinson decided it was time in the 68th minute for something different and Ollie Palmer was introduced for Ryan Longman up front. A double change also followed with 15 minutes remaining as Ethan Chislett and Shane McLoughlin entered the fray, as Wimbledon searched for a bit more creativity in midfield. George Dobson and Jack Rudoni made way.  

With neither side really able to make an impression, it appeared to be another draw for Wimbledon, but Pigott had other ideas. After Nightingale's close-range effort from a corner was blocked, Pigott showed plenty of determination to force the ball home. That seemed to be it and a dramatic win for Wimbledon, but there was one final twist in the tale. A melee in the box resulted in the referee giving a penalty and Sam Hoskins stepped up, but Tzanev did superbly to make a fantastic save.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Luke O’Neill, Alex Woodyard, Will Nightingale, Cheye Alexander, Jack Rudoni (Ethan Chislett), Jaakko Oksanen, Ben Heneghan, George Dobson (Shane McLoughlin), Ryan Longman (Ollie Palmer), Joe Pigott.   

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