Scott Wagstaff’s first season with AFC Wimbledon including playing a lead role in an FA Cup giant-killing against Premier League West Ham and playing a part in our Great Escape.
During a colourful career that’s included a promotion with Bristol City and winning the Football League Trophy, the 29-year-old has built a reputation as an industrious midfielder with an eye for goal.
However, Wagstaff felt that last season was a big step forward in his career after joining us from Gillingham, and he's determined to build on it during 2019/20.
“Playing over 40 games in all competitions last season was massive for me," said Wagstaff. "It was good for me to get out and play regularly. I felt that I performed quite well. I enjoyed the new role that the gaffer gave me. Sometimes when you are out wide you can get by-passed, but when you are in the middle you are more involved. I like to put a lot of energy into my game and I had a bit more freedom with where I could run as well. I enjoyed the season and I put in one of the best performances of my career against West Ham. It was an unbelievable atmosphere to play in, our fans were singing right throughout the match. No one can ever take that game away from me, but I’m hoping to push on next season.”
Though that FA Cup game against West Ham provided a real highlight from a personal perspective, it also helped to provide a major boost to morale among the squad, according to Wagstaff.
“As soon as the West Ham game ended we knew that, on our day, we could compete with a top-10 team in the Premier League, so that gave us confidence. It gave us hope that we could beat teams in our league, and we knew that we needed to do it on a consistent basis.
“I would say that the Rochdale game was the match when it turned for us in the league due to the manner of victory as we scored a penalty with almost the last kick. We had won the game before that as well and I think the last-minute penalty set us up for the rest of the season. We kicked on after that and we went on another run. It was the turning point in our season, especially travelling all that way. It’s a long way to go, so to win up there on a Tuesday night was an extra special boost.
“It was a great achievement in the end. I would definitely say it’s up there as one of the best achievements in my career as it looked like we were dead and buried at one stage. When we were 10 points off safety no one gave us a chance, but then we put together the run at the end of the season. The run we went on was different class and we managed to do it on the last day at Bradford.”
Wagstaff also had special praise for the backing Wimbledon supporters provided, which helped the squad to recover during difficult times in the season.
“It’s always a low point when a manager loses his job. He brought myself in and you feel that you’ve let him down. That was a low point for us as a group, but in terms of an actual match the Fleetwood home game when we lost 3-0 was disappointing. We had the West Ham game after that and everyone was probably thinking it was the worst time to play them, but thankfully it didn’t work out like that.
“The turn-out from the fans at Bradford was brilliant, but they had been like that all season. The away fans are always extra lively as well and it was a great atmosphere at Bradford, you could hear them more than the home supporters. It was brilliant because you could hear them singing right the way throughout the game. It was a great atmosphere. Bradford was probably the best away atmosphere that the boys played in and they needed that backing to help get the result we needed.”
Scott Wagstaff said he's raring to go for the start of pre-season training on 23 June after making good progress from the calf injury that caused him to miss the last two games of 2018/19. If you missed it, take a look at the first part of our interview with Scott.