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Preview: Wally calls for a big six

Quotes from both managers and stats ahead of important League One match

22 March 2019

Wally Downes says there can be no let-up in the push for League One survival, as AFC Wimbledon seek to build on a prolific spell of three successive victories.

The Dons host Gillingham on Saturday with Steve Lovell’s side currently occupying 16th place, but just five points above Wimbledon. Having drawn at league leaders Luton Town last time out, Gills are likely to be a tough nut to crack and the team will fully appreciate more of your great support in pursuit of another important victory. Wimbledon’s top scorer Joe Pigott will be aiming to add to his 13-goal return so far against his former club, who he scored the winner against in September.

Pigott could be one of several former Gills in the Wimbledon squad with Scott Wagstaff, Andy Barcham, and Deji Oshilaja having previously played for tomorrow’s opponents. Of course, our former captain Barry Fuller is sure to receive a warm welcome, as he returns to the Cherry Red Records Stadium for the first time since leaving last summer. Dean Parrett also made a vital contribution to keep Wimbledon up last season and he could also be in the Gillingham squad tomorrow.

Below are quotes from both managers, plus stats, and a recap of previous matches.

Wally Downes:

“Gillingham are going to be full of beans because they’ve come from behind twice recently. They scored late on the other day and when you come back like that it’s a big fillip for a club, it’s like a win. They will be coming here as a very determined side.

“We’ve had a good week, that’s basically what we’ve had. Now we have to make sure that we have another good six weeks. We had lost three on the trot at home and it was difficult to play. We gave up some possession and we had to really dig in and make sure we were not an easy touch anymore, which we are not now. We’ve had some great away performances lately and our fans filled the end at Southend last week. To get the win was terrific and there was a real connection again with the fans.”

Steve Lovell

“Wimbledon’s front two are in a hard-working team. They are a young team with plenty of energy. I know what kind of player Joe Pigott is, he is always likely to get a goal and like most centre forwards you play against in this league, the ones scoring goals are the ones you need to take care of. Technically, he is very good, I have seen him score some brilliant goals when he was at Maidstone.”

“We dealt with Luton quite well, apart from the first goal. Callum Reilly misjudged the ball, which looped back towards their player and he scored.”

Team News

Will Nightingale (knee) is unlikely to be risked for Saturday’s game, but Rod McDonald and Deji Oshilaja are both in contention to return to the squad. Kwesi Appiah is away on international duty. His fitness will be reassessed by Ghana’s medical staff in terms of his possible participation for the match against Kenya on Saturday. James Hanson is likely to return to the Wimbledon squad after a chest infection.

For Gillingham, Alex Lacey is available to return at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Defender Lacey, who has not made a first-team appearance for two months due to an ankle issue, came through a midweek Kent Senior Cup match unscathed. Former Dons midfielder Dean Parrett has been suffering with illness, but he is expected to recover in time to be involved. Ricky Holmes (back) and Billy Bingham (calf) are still not ready to return, while Gabriel Zakuani (ankle) is out for the season.

Previous meetings

Gillingham 0-1 AFC Wimbledon (8 September 2018)

In a hard-fought battle at Priestfield Stadium, Joe Pigott scored the only goal of the game. It was a fine finish in the 53rd minute as Pigott rounded Gillingham keeper Tomas Holy, before finishing clinically from an acute angle. See below for highlights from that game.

Gillingham 2-2 AFC Wimbledon (30 December 2017)

In an eventful second-half, Wimbledon fell behind just after the hour, but Lyle Taylor equalised from the penalty spot. However, Max Ehmer put Gills back in front, before a late equaliser from Harry Forrester earned Wimbledon a share of the spoils.

AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Gillingham (12 September 2017)

Wimbledon marched into a first-half lead through Andy Barcham, but missed chances cost The Dons all three points. Despite being reduced to 10 men through Lee Martin’s sending off, Gillingham equalised in first-half injury-time through Sean Clare, and that’s the way it stayed.

Form Guide (last six, starting with most recent)

AFC Wimbledon WWWDLW

Gillingham DLWDWL

Last time out

Southend 0-1 Wimbledon

Luton 2-2 Gillingham

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