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Interviews

Preview: Wally calls for players to take the next step

Views from both camps and a recap of past battles between Wimbledon and Doncaster

8 March 2019

Wally Downes believes that progress has been made in making Wimbledon harder to beat, but he says that his players must take the next step and start winning games regularly.

The Dons face a tough challenge on Saturday against a side chasing a League One play-off place, but Doncaster are without a win in the last four matches heading into this one.

Though Wimbledon have earned victories on the road recently, home victories have proven to be elusive and starting an important week with three points would be a big boost to everyone in blue and yellow in the battle to stay up.

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

Wally Downes

“When I took over I felt that we had been giving away too many goals from mistakes in our own half and it wasn’t pretty to try and change that because you have to go a bit more direct. After about five or six games I felt that we were not playing enough at all, so we had to have a little rethink and change the team around a little bit. I think that now we are passing and playing the ball a little bit better, apart from the Shrewsbury game when nobody did. I think we have a little bit of a measure now of what’s required not to lose games, but now we have to step it up more and start winning them.

“The more open the game is the better that Doncaster are. They’ve got some players who, if the game is open, can take advantage of the spaces that are there. It’s down to us to get them in areas where we can stifle them and look to get on the counter-attack and break them down the other way.

“If we get off to a great start, play well, and get our noses in front at home, then I’m sure our fans will realise that this is a critical couple of games and it could be the start of a nine-point week. We’ve got to make sure that we are out there and really pushing for the win. Not harum-scarum stuff and chasing the game by giving away anything early, but we’ve got to be solid, stay in the game, and take advantage of any mistakes that the opposition make.”

Grant McCann

“Wally Downes has gone in there and they’ve had an upturn in results, they’ve looked more resolute and they gave us a really good game back in November, we started slowly then, and we can’t afford to do that again.

“It’ll be a difficult game down there, like it always is, but we have to focus on us and we have to make sure that we get back to winning ways, we’ve drawn two and lost one of the last three, so we need to try and get that cushion between us and seventh.

“We’re still not quite where we want to be in terms of a points total really, but we have two good games coming up to make that up, and that obviously starts on Saturday with what’s going to be a tough away game.

“There is not one team in this league that scares us, we have to make sure we take each game as it comes and play the way we want to play, and this is a big opportunity for us to get back to winning ways. We want to cement our place and really confirm our place in the top six, we want to really get at those teams that are above us and chase them down, we think we’re just as good as any of those teams that are in the top six and rightly so.

“If I said at the beginning of the season that we’d be sitting in sixth place with 12 games to go, a lot of people would have laughed at us, we feel as if we’re in a good position, but we feel like we can be in a much better one, and we have to make sure we do just that.”

Team News

Kwesi Appiah and Dylan Connolly are both back in contention for Wimbledon after shaking off hamstring and ankle injuries respectively. The match on Saturday will come too soon though for Deji Oshilaja (foot) and Rod McDonald (groin). Doncaster boss Grant McCann must decide whether to field midfielder Herbie Kane. McCann admitted they will have to nurse the Liverpool loanee through the rest of the season because of an ongoing groin issue. Defender Tom Anderson will continue to be assessed after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Form Guide (last six in all competitions, starting with most recent)

AFC Wimbledon DLWLWL

Doncaster DLDLWW

Last time out

Doncaster 1-1 Charlton

Shrewsbury 0-0 AFC Wimbledon

Previous meetings

Doncaster Rovers 2-1 AFC Wimbledon (17 November 2018)

A well-worked move, finished off by Mitch Pinnock, put Wimbledon ahead in the 26th minute, but Ali Crawford equalised before the break, and Tommy Rowe struck the winner for Doncaster with just four minutes to go. The match started Simon Bassey’s second spell as Interim Manager at Wimbledon and a week later he guided The Dons to victory against Southend.

Doncaster 0-0 AFC Wimbledon (1 May 2018)

Barely a chance was created at either end in a match low on entertainment value, but the point was all that mattered for Wimbledon on the night as it ensured another season of League One football.

AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Doncaster (26 August 2017)

Two goals in three second-half minutes earned Wimbledon’s first home victory last season. Kwesi Appiah opened the scoring through a fine solo effort, before Andy Barcham struck a goal of equal quality, and that proved to be enough on the day.

Take a look at the highlights from that game below.

Tickets

We still have availability for the popular Chemflow terrace behind the goal and you can order in advance from our online ticket shop until 11.00 am on Saturday morning. We also have tickets remaining for the RyGas terrace (just £17 for adults). This is not an all-ticket game and Dons supporters will be able to pay on the day at the turnstiles. All tickets ordered before Wednesday 6 March will have been posted out. Tickets ordered after this point will be made available for collection from the white ticket booth (next to the Dons Trust kiosk) before the game this Saturday.


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