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Preview: Belief is key as Dons meet Crewe for first time in 8 years

The view from both camps, plus a look at past matches

18 December 2020

AFC Wimbledon will on Saturday bid for a second league victory since returning to Plough Lane – and Glyn’s boys go into the game with confidence boosted after taking a point at Sunderland.

Opponents Crewe will certainly provide a tough challenge tomorrow as they have settled in very quickly to life in League One after promotion with David Artell having engineered impressive progress since taking over as manager in 2017.  The former Crewe player has guided his club to 11th place in the table, five points above Wimbledon, albeit having played a game more. Artell, who was previously Academy Operations Manager at Crewe, has stayed true to the club’s traditions of bringing through young talent.

Saturday’s match will be the first time that Wimbledon have faced Crewe since 2012 and a 3-3 draw at Gresty Road when Christian Jolley headed home a last-minute equaliser. The last time Crewe visited Plough Lane for a game was back in April 1983, the Dons winning 3-2 on the way to promotion from the old Division Four. Fast forward 37 years and Wimbledon will be aiming for a similar result. As mentioned in yesterday's squad update, Jack Rudoni (pictured) has been declared fit to face Crewe after his impressive display at Sunderland.

Below are quotes from both camps, plus stats, and a look back at previous matches.

Mark Robinson:

“Firstly, it will be about what we are going to do, and how we are going to implement our style on the game, but also looking at the threats they’ve got, and how we can nullify that. Nothing really changes, the styles may vary from week to week, but we have a process where we look at the opposition so that the lads are fully briefed about what to expect. We will look to impose our strengths on them. It’s then about the lads having the confidence and belief to go and do that. In the second-half at Sunderland that’s exactly what we did. We went from possibly a more defensive shape to a more on the front foot shape. We looked very good and very threatening. Though we only reached about 35-40 per cent possession, we were always in the ascendancy, so it’s about the players kicking on from that now and believing in themselves, as much as anything.

“We have to take lots of positives from the other night, especially with the second-half performance, so we are looking forward to Saturday.”

David Artell:

“We are unbeaten in four matches but we remain on an even kneel here. The games are coming thick and fast and we will have to be ready. We were a bit short on Tuesday and had to name four defenders on the bench, but that can happen and if they do get a chance they have to make an impact.

“We have a relatively small squad in comparison with other clubs because we also have to take our Under-23s fixture into consideration as well. There have been times when we have had an Under-23 fixture on the same day as a first-team. I’ve said we will need them all at some point and that may come sooner rather than later.

“I have been fairly pleased with the way we have defended since losing Perry. Losing your captain and such an influential player in your team could upset the apple cart but it hasn’t so far.

“It is part of their development here not to just play in the one position. Luke Offord can play in numerous positions, so can Pixie and then the midfielders. Tom Lowery and Oli Finney can play in different roles in midfield if needed. Owen Dale can play different positions because we get them to play in different ones in the Academy. They play there enough to know what they are doing. We are going along nicely and there is more to come.”

Form guide (last six in all competitions)

Wimbledon DLWLWL

Crewe WWDDWL

Last time out

Sunderland 1-1 Wimbledon

Crewe 2-1 Plymouth Argyle

Top scorers

Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (12)

Crewe – Owen Dale, Mikael Mandron (5)

Past meetings

The Dons have only faced Crewe Alexandra twice since our reformation. The last meeting back in February 2012 was particularly eventful as it ended in a 3-3 draw with Terry Brown’s men coming back from 3-1 down to salvage a point. Billy Knott had put Wimbledon ahead in the seventh minute, but Crewe equalised through Byron Moore just three minutes later, before goals by Nick Powell and Greg Pearson put the hosts well in charge. However, Sammy Moore struck a superb effort from outside the area in the 81st minute to reduce the deficit, and Christian Jolley headed home emphatically in the last minute of normal time to earn a draw. Jolley was also on target in the other meeting during the 2011/12 season, but goals by Nick Powell, Adam Dugdale, and AJ Leitch-Smith secured a 3-1 win at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. A superb run at the end of the season meant a seventh place finish for Crewe and the Railwaymen earned promotion glory at Wembley with a 2-0 win versus Cheltenham in the play-off final. Wimbledon finished 16th in the club’s first season back in the league, a comfortable 10 points clear of the relegation zone in the end. 

Going further back

The Dons have played Crewe 12 times in total and the only meeting in the FA Cup ended in a 2-0 win for Wimbledon on 21 January 1997, thanks to goals by Robbie Earle and Dean Holdsworth. Crewe were managed at the time by former Dons boss Dario Gradi. The victory led to a memorable FA Cup run to the semi-final for Wimbledon that season, which including upsetting Man United with a winning goal in the replay by Marcus Gayle. Overall, Wimbledon have won six, lost five, and drawn one against Crewe.

iFollow

You can catch all the action from Plough Lane on iFollow. For those without iFollow codes, match passes will be available for £10 and it will be available to supporters based overseas. Mikey T and Rob Cornell will be providing live WDON commentary on iFollow. You can access live coverage by visiting the Match Centre. If you have any issues please e-mail iFollow@efl.com .


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