An opportunity for AFC Wimbledon to move out of the League One drop zone awaits on Saturday, but Wally Downes is reluctant to look too far ahead in the battle to stay up.
Accrington Stanley tomorrow visit the Cherry Red Records Stadium for the first time since the League 2 play-off semi-final first leg in May 2016. Both clubs were vying to reach Wembley back then, but it’s a completely different scenario now with staying in League 1 as the ultimate goal.
Following a bright start to life in League One after going up as title winners last season, reality has hit home for John Coleman’s side and they head into tomorrow’s match on the back of a fifth defeat in six matches, though that was against promotion contenders Sunderland. Our manager is far from underestimating the challenge that Accrington will present on Saturday and he expects them to come out fighting.
“They (Accrington) are professional players and they will have been stung by the result. I am sure they will be looking to put in a better display against us. I noticed that they changed their system around. Whether that was looking forward to how they were going to play against us, I don’t know. We’ve seen their last game, so it’s a little bit up in the air with how they are going to play, but as long as we put in our performance, that’s all that matters on the day.
“We have to just look to win the next game. If that (moving out of the relegation zone) is a by-product of winning, great. In lots of interviews I’ve been doing they’ve been talking about how the league has condensed. I don’t think anyone knows who is going to be where at the end of the season, so all I can do is focus on winning the next game.
“We want to excite the fans and it’s our job to excite them. It’s their job to support us so if we both do our jobs hopefully we will get the right result. I was pleased with the performance against Gillingham (last home game) and the fact we kept going as we got a goal in injury time. Gillingham are a very experienced team and when they got their noses in front they knew how to manage the game. Our inexperience showed. I was not happy to lose the game, but there were a lot of positives to take from it.”
“We have to stay together, we have to keep our heads up. I won’t be letting my head go down and I won’t be letting any of the players get down. We need a lift and the best lift you can get when you are involved in the world of football is to score goals. We need a goal from somewhere. We just have to keep trying.
“The next run of games is massive. It’s going to define our season and we have to give it our best shot. You only get three points for any game of football and we will be doing our best to take all three (on Saturday).
“I didn’t think we could be faulted for effort against Sunderland. The players gave their all, but we came up short. They were better than us. There were key moments that didn’t go our way through our own problems. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. We gifted them a goal and didn’t take three gilt-edged chances. If you are giving goals away and missing good chances, that’s a recipe for disaster in football.”
Wally Downes could have a fully-fit squad to choose from. With Kwesi Appiah and Deji Oshilaja having boosted their fitness by coming through a midweek practice match, they could both be included in the squad. Accrington will have winger Jordan Clark back for their crucial match against a Wimbledon side currently in the relegation zone. Clark picked up his 10th booking of the season and missed the two games against Fleetwood on Saturday and Sunderland on Wednesday.
Form Guide (last six in all competitions, starting with most recent)
AFC Wimbledon WLWWWD
Accrington Stanley LLLWLL
Accrington Stanley 2-1 AFC Wimbledon (22 September 2018)
A much-improved second-half display from Wimbledon was not enough to earn a point at Accrington. At 2-0 down on the hour, the Dons looked dead and buried, but substitute Scott Wagstaff struck a superb individual effort and Jake Jervis came close to an equaliser. Wimbledon paid the price for starting too slowly, handing the initiative to Accrington and Billy Kee opened the scoring early on. Sean McConville’s deflected strike made it 2-0 on the hour and Wagstaff’s excellent goal turned out to be of consolation value only.
See the highlights from that match by clicking on the link below
Accrington Stanley 2-2 AFC Wimbledon (18 May 2016)
At 1-0 up from the first leg, thanks to a late winner from Tom Beere, The Dons knew that a draw at Accrington would be enough and that’s exactly what happened. However, that doesn’t even tell half the story! Josh Windass and Piero Mingoia put Accrington 2-0 up before the hour and dreaming of Wembley, but Bayo Akinfenwa’s emphatic header sent the game into extra-time. Floodlight failure held up the game during extra-time, but there was no stopping Wimbledon on the night with Lyle Taylor striking the goal that earned a final spot at Wembley and a glorious promotion followed.
If you’re not going the game tomorrow then you can stay in touch by listening to commentary on iFollow from the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Domestic subscribers can listen to WDON coverage with Mikey T and Rob Cornell. Overseas subscribers can watch a live stream on iFollow.