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Dons v Fleetwood: memorable past battles

Neal Ardley's men back at Highbury Stadium on Saturday

16 August 2017

It was honours even between AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood last season, as the two clubs met for the first time in the third tier of English Football.

The Dons are back at Highbury Stadium this Saturday for a game that will bring back memories of an iconic night in AFC Wimbledon history – a 2-0 play-off semi-final first leg win – on Friday 6 May 2011.

Of course, both clubs have enjoyable a remarkable rise through non league and into League One with plenty of battles along the way, including the Dons dramatically sealing survival on the final day of 2012/13.

Below, we take a brief look at last season's matches with three from the past also thrown into the mix. Also, take a look in our gallery of images to see if you can spot yourself up at Fleetwood six years ago!

Last season

AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Fleetwood (26 November 2016)

Uwe Rosler's men came into this match as one of the form teams in League One, but it needed an injury-time goal from Conor McLaughlin to salvage a point for the Cod Army. Goals from Tom Elliott and Dean Parrett had put Wimbledon on course for victory after an 11th minute opener from Cian Bolger. Despite the setback of conceding a late goal, it rounded off a very good November for Neal Ardley's men with big victories against Bury in league and cup as the highlights.

Fleetwood 0-0 AFC Wimbledon (18 March 2017)

The Dons followed up a midweek victory against Milton Keynes with a resolute display on the road, derailing Fleetwood's promotion charge. The closest either side came to victory was when James Shea reacted brilliantly to deny Ashley Hunter. In a second-half mainly consisting of containment for Wimbledon, Andy Barcham had the away side's best chance 19 minutes from time when he shot over after a fine run.

Three of the best

Fleetwood 0-2 AFC Wimbledon (6 May 2011)

For the 600 Dons fans who made their way to the Fylde coast on this Friday evening, it was pure joy. Having finished in second place in their second season of Conference National football, Terry Brown's team travelled to face the Cod Army in the first leg of the play-off semi-finals. Chances had been few and far between, before Luke Moore took advantage of defensive uncertainty to steer the ball just inside the far post. And soon after the restart, Moore turned provider when he cleverly got in behind the Cod Army's defence and played the ball back for Kaid Mohammed to slot home from close range.

The second leg was an even greater triumph as the Dons swept aside their Lancashire visitors with a fantastic display of attacking football to win 6–1. The final against Luton Town was to prove an altogether tighter affair.

AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Fleetwood Town (27 April 2013)

"We Are the Resurrection," was the message from a banner at the stadium, as Jack Midson stepped up to strike the kick that was to preserve the Dons' Football League status. A tense afternoon still had some way to run before Dons fans were able to invade the pitch and celebrate survival, and at the end Midson's name was deservedly added to those of Dickie Guy, Dave Beasant and Danny Kedwell on the club's roll of penalty honours.

With nerves jangling, Gary Alexander headed home Sammy Moore's free-kick to put Wimbledon in front, but Andy Mangan got a touch on Alan Goodall's corner to level, and the Dons' future again looked grim. But 18 minutes from time, full-back Robert Atkinson pulled down Curtis Osano in the box, allowing Midson to take the stage.

Speaking earlier this year, Neal Ardley described it as his finest hour. "When I first joined this club I was a wet-behind-the-ears academy manager who had no knowledge of League Two or what it took to win games of football. I had to learn pretty fast, and I still feel that keeping the club up was one of my greatest achievements. What we fought against to get there and the quality we had to get there was pretty low. I'm really proud of that year."

On the day that marks 40 years since the death of Elvis Presley, the clip below shows Dons fans after we stayed up singing one of his most famous songs!

AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Fleetwood (31 August 2013)

First-half goals from Harry Pell and Michael Smith earned an impressive win against a Fleetwood side that ended the season with promotion at Wembley.

In one of Wimbledon's best performances of the campaign, Pell opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before a bizarre second put Neal Ardley's men well in charge. George Francomb tried a shot from the edge of the area, and Nathan Pond's block sent the ball high into the air before landing in front of Smith, who fired past Davies from inside the six-yard-box.

Tickets are available in advance to support the Dons up in Fleetwood this Saturday and there are also places on the supporters' coach left. See our previous article for more details.

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