It is a clash that will bring back memories of Boxing Days from the past, writes Stephen Crabtree.
On the two previous occasions when the Dons have faced Oxford on the feast of Stephen, the team were desperately trying to establish themselves at a higher level. Having achieved the remarkable feat of three promotions during four seasons in charge, both Dave Bassett and Terry Brown were pitting their managerial wits against more established clubs with bigger budgets and better support.
Relegation certainties according to most pundits having moved from the old Fourth Division to the top-flight at lightning speed, Bassett’s boys were in mid-table when Jim Smith brought his lowly United side to Plough Lane in 1986. A Glyn Hodges penalty secured a point and Wimbledon went on to amaze the football world by finishing sixth after completing doubles over both Chelsea and Manchester United. To this day, the Dons remain the last team to win at Stamford Bridge, Anfield and Old Trafford in the same season.
Twenty five years later, Brown was looking to establish his side in League Two after a remarkable journey that had seen AFC Wimbledon playing Ryman League football as recently at 2008. But the Dons’ 0-2 defeat against Chris Wilder’s promotion chasing Us, their tenth league game without a win, confirmed that reinforcements were needed. “I’m looking to improve the squad in the window,” the manager said. “I need a little more Football League experience.”
After years when both clubs have been up and down the leagues, the Dons and Oxford are now becalmed in League One. Will it be third time lucky for Wimbledon against the Us on Boxing Day 2020?
The picture above shows Darius Charles striking a superb goal in the 3-1 win at Oxford back in 2016.