The Dons tonight seek vital points in pursuit of League One survival against a Luton side closing in on the title and Will Nightingale says that Wimbledon’s players have to show that they want it more.
Wimbledon head to Kenilworth Road unbeaten in four matches, but taking on The Hatters will provide a real examination of the progress made in recent months. Since 12 February, Wimbledon have lost just twice in 12 matches, a run that has kept hopes alive of staying in the third tier of English football for another season. However, tonight’s opponents Luton have scored 84 league goals so far during 2018/19, as they seek to clinch the title, and two goals from in-form Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu swept aside Accrington Stanley at the weekend.
Below are quotes from both camps, plus stats, and a recap of previous battles:
“It’s got to be that focus of a game at a time. We’ve been unbeaten in four and that’s what our focus has been. Everything has now got to be switched onto Luton and we can’t be naïve. We’ve got to be aware that they are up there for a reason. We’ve got to be clever, stay in the game, and a chance will come. We have to make sure that we do everything we can to get that win. I want to make sure that we keep a clean sheet. I was devastated that we didn’t do that in the last game, but now it’s another opportunity. I’m relishing the fact that every game is a chance to help us keep a clean sheet. That’s what I set out to go and get.
“We’ve got to show what this Wimbledon club is about and we have got to prove to everyone how good we can be. We’ve got off to a late start this season and we are trying to make up for it. We can’t let all of this good work be for nothing. We’ve got to want it more than them. They are fighting for promotion and the title, so they are going to be up for it as well. We have got to make sure we match that and better it.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go and test ourselves against the best. I keep saying to the team that we are improving. The last couple of results haven’t been what we are after, but we haven’t lost so we are going there with the mentality of getting the win. If we can upset the applecart there, that would be superb. With the underdog mentality we’ve had, I expect us to get something from the game. If we can win, that will be great, but I certainly don’t expect us to come away losing. We are going in against the probable Champions so it’s a great test for us. Let’s hope we go there and upset the party. We need the win, they need the win, it’s a good game in hand.”
“Wally has turned them around a little bit. They’ve got some good results and will make it difficult for us. It’s going to be a Tuesday night under the lights, which is special, and hopefully we can get the right kind of result.
“If you look at all the teams that had unbeaten runs for a long time, ourselves, Sunderland and Barnsley, the unbeaten runs have gone. Players and teams get edgy at this time of the season and strange results happen. We were fully focused and at it (against Accrington) and that showed in our performance.
“There’s a lot of points to play for, there are teams fighting for different reasons, we’re fighting to try and get out of this league. We’re top of the league, everyone wants to beat us. It’s a massive challenge for all the opposition teams who we play against, and I keep saying it, we’re fully focused, we’re grounded and we’ll be ready for every challenge to be thrown at us.”
Wally Downes has no fresh injury worries, ahead of tonight’s game. Our manager said it will be too soon for Kwesi Appiah to be handed game-time for the first-team, but Toby Sibbick is expected to shake off a hip injury in time to make the squad. For Luton, Alan Sheehan and Elliot Lee both suffered ankle injuries at Accrington Stanley and manager Mick Harford will therefore check on their fitness levels. Former Dons keeper James Shea missed the win at Accrington due to illness, but he could return. Andrew Shinnie returns from suspension, but former Dons loanee Danny Hylton is still sidelined due to an ankle injury.
Last time out
Accrington Stanley 0-3 Luton Town
AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Bristol Rovers
Luton Town WLDWWD
AFC Wimbledon DDDWLW
AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Luton Town (27 October 2018)
The Dons held out for over an hour, before Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu opened the scoring in the 61st minute after being set-up by Andrew Shinnie. Danny Hylton then had a penalty saved by Joe McDonnell, before Elliot Lee sealed victory in the 80th minute.
AFC Wimbledon 4-1 Luton (13 February 2016)
Lyle Taylor struck a double as Wimbledon made it five wins in six games, further building momentum in a play-off charge that ended with Wembley glory. The Dons went ahead when Ryan Sweeney headed a corner across goal and the ball went in off Scott Cuthbert. Taylor turned in Andy Barcham's cross for 2-0 and Sean Rigg fired in a third from 18 yards after the break. George Francomb's corner provided Taylor's second, before Jack Marriott smashed an edge-of-the-box consolation.
See below for highlights from that game.
Luton Town 2-0 AFC Wimbledon (26 September 2015)
Substitute Jack Marriott scored a late brace as Luton beat a Wimbledon side reduced to 10 men. Karleigh Osborne had received two yellow cards in five minutes as he was dismissed in the first half. The Dons looked to be holding on for a draw, but Marriott made the extra man count, tapping in from close range, before finding the top corner in injury time to seal the win.
Tonight's away match against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road, will be streamed live to domestic subscribers on iFollow.
Supporters without a ticket for tonight's all-ticket game can order a match pass for this crucial League One fixture on iFollow for £10:
The match is a 19:45 kick-off at Kenilworth Road. Please note tonight's game will also be streamed live as normal for overseas Dons.
Dons supporters will not be able to buy tickets for this game tonight. Tickets were only on sale in advance and supporters that have purchased them can collect at the away turnstiles in the Oak Road Stand.