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Terell ready for return in cup match at Plough Lane tonight

Rob Tuvey outlines the plan for London Senior Cup game

22 April 2021

Terell Thomas will tonight be back in match action for the Dons after almost four months out.

Our centre-back, who was Player of the Year last season, is poised to play for the final half hour of the London Senior Cup first round match versus Balham (7.00 pm kick-off). Shayon Harrison is also set to feature, along with Corie Andrews and Dan Csoka, and Wimbledon supporters can watch the game live on our You Tube channel.

Rob Tuvey will manage the team tonight and he told us beforehand about the plans for players on the way back towards full fitness.

“Terell is going to get half an hour and it will give us some good data on how he is in terms of his fitness,” said Rob. “Terell’s return is massive for all of the squad because he is such a popular member of the squad and on the pitch we are a really strong team when he is in the side. Overall, he will be a big player for us moving forward, so he is another option for us. For Terell personally, considering what he has been through, it is absolutely huge.

“Shayon will get 30 minutes and it’s brilliant for him to also be back. We think he will play a part in the run-in for us. We are just aiming to boost his fitness, so that he’s ready when called upon. Dan Csoka will get 90 minutes and we will be aiming to increase game-time for Corie Andrews, which will be good for him. Jack Madelin and Elliott Bolton are also back from injury, so they will feature, and there will be Under-18s involved too after their great FA Youth Cup run.”

In a week that has included plans for the proposed European Super League being withdrawn due to fan power, Rob added that it’s important for AFC Wimbledon to retain the right values.

“As a club, we’ve got to remember where we came from, and we’ve got to realise that football is for all, it’s not just for Premier League or league clubs. It’s a sport built up by the working classes. It’s for everyone really, and that’s really important to us.

“Robbo didn’t hesitate to let Balham play at Plough Lane when he was asked. That shows where we are as a football club. We just want to make sure that everyone can experience Plough Lane and we obviously want that for our fans. If we can help out clubs further down the pyramid we will, for example we were willing to loan out players for no cost. Obviously, what the last few days have shown is that there’s too much greed in football. Any way we can give back to football we will.”

Balham FC play in the Premier Division of the SCEFL (South East Counties Football League) and they released a very complimentary article about us in the build-up to tonight’s game. This is reproduced in full below.

Our next 1st team match is the delayed first round London FA Senior Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon, the highest ranked team in the competition.

Whilst the current  headlines are about the serious damage 'the super league' would do to the footballing world, it should be noted that AFC Wimbledon, (the fan-owned phoenix club who, in 2003, played in the very league we were in - The Combined Counties Premier League), in the middle of their fight for survival in EFL League One, have not forgotten their own roots and the importance of grassroots football for many players, families and communities.

Our 1st team haven’t played a competitive fixture since early December 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions and the Southern Counties East Football League teams voting for a null & void 20/21 season.

Hearing this, AFCW offered to reverse the fixture and invite us to play this tie at the brand new Plough Lane Stadium. In between their own matches on Tuesday and Saturday. A very noble gesture given the importance of their run in of games and protection of their own surface. It's an opportunity that is fantastic for us as our home ground at AFC Croydon Athletic was forced to close to any football until next season. Of course, the icing on the cake would have been to play it in front of a crowd, but that's not to be in current times.

The LFA Senior Cup is a competition AFC Wimbledon have continued to play in despite their progress up the pyramid. In fact, Balham surprised many by beating AFC Wimbledon in 2018 ,and eventually go on and win this very cup. The gesture for us as a step 5 team to play on a EFL League 1 pitch and in a new stadium is what grassroots teams dream of. Big thanks to Mark Robinson, AFCW Manager, and the team behind the scenes for making this happen.

It is not just the Dons Local Action incredible work with local food banks that makes AFCW such a community focussed club, but it gives hope that other elite clubs are about more than own self-interests and can indeed support the wider interest in football.

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