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Preview: Mark sees ‘promising signs’ in search of clear identity at Plough Lane

Mark Robinson talks positively about revitalising the Dons

12 February 2021

AFC Wimbledon face Rochdale on Saturday with vital points up for grabs at Plough Lane and Mark Robinson believes the players are starting to embrace new ideas in search of a mentality that will win games regularly.

The Dons have a good record against Rochdale in recent years and go into tomorrow’s match seeking a second successive win after last Saturday’s morale-boosting victory at Wigan (the picture above shows Joe Pigott striking the second goal last Saturday). Looking  forward though is all that Robbo is concerned about as he seeks to change the squad’s mentality. Rochdale visit Plough Lane on the back of three defeats in the last five games, but there have been bright spells this season from a side managed by Brian Barry-Murphy, particularly when Matthew Lund has been on his game and the attacking midfielder received the Sky Bet Player of the Month for January.

Below are quotes from Robbo, plus a look at Rochdale’s history, and previous meetings between the two clubs.

Mark Robinson (Interim Manager)

“I don’t want to talk too much about the past, it’s not really relevant and it’s more about what we do in the future. The lads are quite clear about what they need to do and how we need to do it and that’s what we need to be working on. We are working on an identity so that Plough Lane is a really uncomfortable place to come to. That was always the case, but things happen in life, and it’s more about moving forward now in what we are going to do.

“The goals they (Rochdale) have conceded is irrelevant because I’m sure they are not sitting there expecting to concede more, they will be working really hard to stop that. I have no interest in what has happened before, and all we can do is look after what we are going to do. We can’t go into the game thinking, ‘they have conceded the most goals, so it’s going to happen again'. That’s not how it works. They will be working really hard to make sure they are tighter at the back. We have to work hard to build our identity, so that we are a real threat going forward, but we are absolutely rock solid at the back.

“Anything worth doing takes time. Yes, there have been some promising signs here and there, but there are also things that are not where they need to be, mainly from the mental aspect and the way the players approach things. It’s nothing negative, it’s just changing mindsets a little bit, from things they may have done at other clubs and the way they were educated previously. We have to make sure that the education they get here is really strong, so that they don’t revert back to type. Their type becomes what they are learning here.

“We’ve had a Performance Mindset Coach. The way he looks at things is ‘My name is Steve, and I’m here to help’. He’s another voice, he’s very clever in what he does. He is from an educational background and it’s more about mindset and getting the best out of people. Everyone needs support. It drives me nuts when a person is feeling a bit down and someone says, ‘I know how you feel’. You don’t know how they feel because their feelings are their own. You can show empathy and support, but you don’t know how they feel. That side of the game is a massive part of performance for me.”

Team News

George Dobson’s availability has handed the Dons a boost with the midfielder given the green light to resume training and he will therefore be in contention to face Rochdale. Shane McLoughlin misses out due to a knee ligament sprain. New signing Shayon Harrison could feature in Wimbledon’s squad for the first time after impressing in training. Ollie Palmer, Paul Kalambayi, Zach Robinson and Terell Thomas miss out through a combination of injury and illness. Rochdale are still without Jimmy Ryan and Paul McShane, both on the long-term injury list this season.

A focus on Rochdale

Rochdale AFC was formed following a public meeting convened by Mr Harvey Rigg and chaired by Mr Herbert Hopkinson, held in the Central Schools Council, Fleece Street, on May 14 1907. The Dale's first league game, in the Manchester League, was played at Spotland (then known as St. Clement's Playing Fields), on September 7th 1907, against Tongue. The game attracted 2,000 spectators and ended in a 2-2 draw. In 1921, Rochdale successfully applied to the Third Division North, but the club finished bottom of the Football League in 1977–78. However, they were successful in their bid for re-election. Southport, which had finished one place above Rochdale, were demoted instead and replaced by Wigan Athletic. Rochdale finished bottom for a second time in 1979–80, but the club was once again re-elected – by one vote over Altrincham.

Rochdale remained in the fourth tier for 36 seasons after unsuccessful play-off campaigns in 2002, 2008 and 2009. The club finally secured promotion in 2009–10 and following relegation in 2012 were again promoted out of League Two in 2013–14. The reappointment of Keith Hill as manager in 2013 paved the way for the most successful spell in Rochdale’s history. Hill guided the club to promotion a year later and in 2014/15 they finished eighth in League One – their highest ever placing in English football. Hill, who is now manager at Tranmere Rovers, left Rochdale in March 2019. After a bright start as Caretaker Manager, former Rochdale player Brian Barry-Murphy was appointed as Manager and he has kept the club in League One since then.  

Rochdale are a team with a real attacking edge as they have scored 41 goals so far this season. The talents of midfielder Matthew Lund are a key weapon for Rochdale as he has struck 12 goals this season and he was today announced as the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for January. The attacking midfielder is in his second spell at Rochdale after joining from Scunthorpe United 13 months ago. Born in Manchester, Lund came through the academy ranks at Stoke City. Keeping the goals out has been the real problem for Rochdale this season as they have conceded more than any other team in League One, 54 in total. 

Previous meetings

Since Wimbledon’s return to the Football League in 2011 the two clubs have met 12 times. The Dons have won six of those matches, losing just twice. The last three meetings have ended in Wimbledon victories, most recently thanks to a late Ethan Chislett winner, the Dons edging it 1-0 in the corresponding fixture. Ironically, Glyn Hodges guided Wimbledon to victory against Rochdale when he was Interim Manager. The Dons won 3-2 at home with goals by Marcus Forss, Paul Osew, and Mitch Pinnock. You can take a look at the highlights from that game by clicking on the link below.

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

AFC Wimbledon WLLLDL

Rochdale LLWLDL

Match coverage

A live stream of the match at Plough Lane can be accessed on our iFollow channel. Mikey T and Rob Cornell will be commentating live, as the Dons seek back-to-back wins after the 3-2 victory at Wigan last Saturday.


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