Wally Downes has called on his young players to make the most of playing in a big stadium at Portman Road tonight.
Over 24,000 watched Ipswich Town’s first League One match at home to Sunderland and though the gate is not anticipated to be as big tonight, there’s still likely to be a sizeable crowd cheering on a side relegated from the Championship last season.
With the trip to Ipswich followed up by a match at Sunderland on Saturday, it’s a pivotal week on the road for Wimbledon against two of the most well supported clubs in the third tier of English football.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus team news, and a look back at a previous Wimbledon visit to Portman Road.
“They (our young players) have earned the right to be there, so they’ve got to grasp the opportunity and enjoy the experience. Playing against Ipswich Town, it’s a feather in your cap to go there and acquit yourself well and get a result. That would be fantastic to have in our memory banks. It’s a great stadium to play at and these are the type of matches we fought hard to earn by staying up last season.
“Ipswich are very direct, very positive, and a very big side. They could be similar to what we faced with Rotherham. With teams coming down from the Championship, I think there’s a perception that there’s an awful lot more football played, but they (Ipswich) are very direct and we will have to match them.
“I thought we played very well in the first-half on Saturday, we had a couple of chances to score and a lot of set plays early on, but it’s a learning curve for us. We have some young players in and they haven’t played against 10 men before in a first-team scenario. There are things that we weren’t doing that we should know and we will know in the future. You’ve got to circulate the ball more and make the other team work hard. It may take you 20 minutes before you get your goal, but they can’t keep working as hard with 10 men as they do with 11. The fact we were pumping balls forward and they were comfortable in defending them showed a bit of naivety on our part.”
“There’ll be one or two changes because of the number of games we have. Where I don’t want to get caught is when you play 10 or 15 games and somebody’s got to come in out of the cold and you’re asking them [to come straight in], it’s unfair on them. There’ll be one or two changes but I trust them to go and perform.
“If we play 15, 16, 17 games with the same team and two or three get injured and we ask two or three to come in, it’s really difficult for them to get up to speed. I trust them to go and perform, so that’s important for us because the number of games we have here is vast.
“It’s a hard game. They’re coming to our stadium, we’ll have a big crowd again and we’re playing well in a lot of aspects of the game. We have to be where we are at the minute and keep on that front foot, the way we play. I’m happy with a lot of aspects of the game, there are one or two things where we can do a lot better, but we’ve got a young team as well, who, as I keep saying, are learning on the job and they’re getting better and better. There’s a decent little mix. The thing that does give me concern is the lack of numbers in the squad.”
“I’m happy with the team three games into the season, there are some really good things there. Young Idris [El Mizouni] came on at Peterborough and did some really good things, [Luke] Woolfenden again is getting better. There are a lot of good things there. If they can handle the pressure that’s on us and the target that’s on our back. If we don’t lose, you’re going to be in it.”
Though Will Nightingale and Anthony Wordsworth have both returned to training, tonight’s game will come too soon for the pair to return for Wimbledon. For Ipswich, new signing Kane Vincent-Young could make his debut at right-back, though the former Colchester man was considered a doubt at the weekend with a toe injury. If not, Janoi Donacien could continue. Winger Anthony Georgiou, who has signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, could also make his debut.
Last time out
AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Accrington Stanley
Peterborough United 2-2 Ipswich Town
A happy birthday from all at AFC Wimbledon to Luke O'Neill. Our new right-back (pictured celebrating our opening goal against Accrington) is 28 today and we really hope he marks the occasion with a Dons victory tonight!
AFC Wimbledon DDLL
Ipswich Town DLDW
Blast from the past!
Ipswich Town 2-2 Wimbledon (16 December 1994)
An entertaining clash from Wimbledon’s Premier League days with both sides threatening to win it. Dean Holdsworth put Wimbledon ahead in just the second minute, but Simon Milton levelled five minutes later. Jon Goodman restored Wimbledon’s advantage in the 62nd minute, but Steve Sedgley earned a point for the Tractor Boys with a goal in the 83rd minute.
Wimbledon supporters can pay at the turnstiles for tonight’s game at Portman Road. Please refer to our away guide for more information.