By Rob Cornell
AFC Wimbledon aim to end a run of four successive defeats by picking up maximum points for the season against tomorrow’s in-form visitors Bristol Rovers.
Neal Ardley’s men secured all three points at the Memorial Stadium, back in November, with an impressive 3-1 victory over The Gas. Cody McDonald’s goal on the hour added to first half efforts from Andy Barcham and the impressive Harry Forrester (pictured).
Since then though, Darrell Clarke’s team have greatly improved and gone from 16th to 11th and just five points off the play-off places. They are likely to provide the Dons with a stern test after victories at Oxford United last Saturday and in midweek over Rochdale.
Former AFC Wimbledon Academy graduate Ryan Sweeney, on loan for the season from Stoke City, could again figure in the Bristol Rovers squad at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Republic of Ireland under-21 centre-back has also contributed three goals this campaign.
Simon Bassey –
“We’ve looked back at it (defeat at Plymouth) and there’s certainly stuff we’ve done well on the night, certainly stuff we need to do better going forward, and getting the balance between the two is something we’ve got to do better. We’re all in it together; our results over the last four games haven’t been good enough. Collectively as a squad, as a staff, as one, we have to do better.
“I know Darrell came in at the end of the season when they got relegated and for a club like Bristol Rovers to go in to the conference is certainly not what they’d expect.
“We have had no times anywhere near as rough as that, we’ve had a constant incline in league position and club status in the five years since Neal has been in charge. In the 16 years I’ve been here, I think we’ve only finished a season one year when we did not improve on the previous year. We haven’t had any of those dark times, people might feel this is a dark time at the moment.”
Darrell Clarke –
"They turned us over earlier in the season, we were very poor on the day and like any team in this division they've got players that can hurt you, certainly Lyle Taylor up top. We know they've got a tight, narrow pitch, and it'll be a tough game against another team that's fighting for their lives.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Neal, he’s done a great job at Wimbledon. I like him, he’s a really decent football guy and it’s his club and he’s Wimbledon through and through. I’ve no doubt in my mind they won’t go down. They’ll have more than enough with the spirit and character he’ll show and pass on to his players and they’ll get through this run."
Andy Barcham (hamstring) was left out of the Wimbledon squad for the game at Plymouth as a precaution and his fitness will continue to be monitored. Fellow midfielder Dean Parrett came off the bench and is back in contention after missing for four months with a groin injury. Centre-back Will Nightingale is no closer to a return at this stage, after picking up a knee injury in training recently.
Bristol Rovers joint top scorer Ellis Harrison is rated doubtful, having picked up a knock in last weekend’s win over Oxford. Lee Brown is also doubtful. Goalkeeper Adam Smith is expected to be passed fit, having suffered a minor head injury in the midweek win over Rochdale, Daniel Leadbitter is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Last time Rovers visited
April 8, 2017
Sky Bet League One
AFC Wimbledon 0, Bristol Rovers 1
November 18, 2017
Sky Bet League One
Bristol Rovers 1, AFC Wimbledon 3
Watch the Dons goals via a link below to our official club YouTube channel.
(All competitions, most recent result first)
AFC Wimbledon – LLLLWW
Bristol Rovers - WWLWWD
Last time out
Plymouth Argyle 4, AFC Wimbledon 2
Bristol Rovers 3, Rochdale 2
Lyle Taylor (AFC Wimbledon) – 13 goals.
Billy Bodin and Ellis Harrison (Bristol Rovers) – 11 each.
Terrace tickets are available to buy for tomorrow's match, either in advance, or on the day. See our Match Details article for more information.
If you can't make it to the Cherry Red Records Stadium tomorrow, then follow the game via iFollow. Our WDON team will be providing live commentary for domestic subscribers. For those overseas, you can watch a live stream of the game. Visit our iFollow section on the official website for more details.