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Preview: Robbo aims to build excitement at Plough Lane

The Dons take on Gillingham tonight

23 February 2021

Mark Robinson has spoken about creating a style of play that will excite supporters, as the Dons prepare to face Gillingham tonight (6.30 pm kick-off).

Though Wimbledon will have to deal with the direct style that has earned Gillingham 40 points already this season – comfortably away from the relegation zone – Robbo wants his players to make a habit of imposing themselves on their opponents during the rest of this season and beyond.

Wimbledon’s home record is good against Gills with three wins and just two defeats from six matches since 2011. Of course, tonight’s game will be the first time that Gillingham have visited our new stadium at Plough Lane and the Dons will be seeking a first win at the venue since December. To achieve this the Dons will need to get the better of a Gillingham side in good form on their travels. In the past month or so they have won at Accrington and Charlton Athletic, plus earned a draw at Sunderland. The goals have been shared around for Gillingham this season with Jordan Graham having struck eight and Vadaine Oliver and John Akinde striking seven each.

Below are views from both camps, plus stats, and a look at previous meetings.

Mark Robinson

“I showed the players the positives when we pressed aggressively (on Saturday). There were a couple of moments when Ryan (Longman) chased down and went again. I said to them, ‘imagine that at Plough Lane and how it would make the crowd feel?’ Situations when we've just forced the keeper to kick it out of play and we’ve pushed up the pitch. I’ve just been trying to build up those pictures for them. Part of what we want to do and our identity is about how that’s going to make the fans feel. If we get it right the fans are still going to feel it even now. They might not be there, but hopefully they will be getting excited about returning to Plough Lane. It’s just about building that imagery for the players, keep looking at what we are doing well, and how we can build upon it.

“I am really looking forward to the game on Tuesday, but it’s not about me. We’ve talked about that and that’s gone. It’s about the players performing now and picking up points. I have heard a lot of people say that it’s a must-win game. People think I’m saying it’s not important about winning, but every game is to some extent a must-win game. In terms of us growing, I just need to see the performances getting better and better. We had 30 minutes against Wigan, 45 minutes on Saturday, and if we put in 60 tomorrow night that should be enough to win the game. If it’s not, we will keep growing and get where we need to be."

Steve Evans

"The one common aspect is that we win together, lose together, and the team spirit is fantastic to witness. It is one game at a time and it is always your next game that is the most important.

"Wimbledon have good players and they have recently changed manager, which I have no doubt will help them. It is a really tough one. We will train and prepare as we always do, but we will travel full of confidence. We have to focus on ourselves, but with Slattery, Oliver and Ogilvie all getting knocks (on Saturday) it looks likely we will have to make a number of changes.”

Team news

Shane McLoughlin is set to return to the squad after recovering from a knee injury, but Callum Reilly has not quite recovered from a hamstring strain. Shayon Harrison misses out due to the ankle injury that he suffered on his debut at Peterborough on Saturday.

For Gillingham, Callum Slattery will sit out having been stretchered off with an ankle injury during Saturday’s win over Bristol Rovers. Rob McKenzie could be the one to start in his place having impressed in the second half. Vadaine Oliver, Connor Ogilvie, Alex MacDonald and Olly Lee all picked up knocks in the game and will require fitness tests to see if they are available.

Last time out

Peterborough 3-0 AFC Wimbledon

Gillingham 2-0 Bristol Rovers

Form Guide

AFC Wimbledon LWLLLD

Gillingham WLWLDW

Previous meetings

The Dons earned a memorable victory versus Gillingham in the first meeting after Wimbledon’s return to the league in 2011. A 3-1 win at the Cherry Red Records Stadium was achieved in October 2011 thanks to a Christian Jolley double and a goal by Jack Midson. Extra spice was added to this occasion as Danny Kedwell, our penalty hero from just five months earlier at Manchester, made a quick return after joining Gills. Wimbledon lost the last match against Gillingham in November with the hosts earning a narrow 2-1 win, thanks to a goal by Dominic Samuel, after a brilliant headed equaliser by Ben Heneghan. The Dons had won the previous two matches against Gills, the latter of those thanks to a Callum Reilly winner at Priestfield Stadium almost a year ago. Overall, the Dons have won six out of 13 matches versus Gillingham since 2011 with just three defeats. Take a look below at a video containing some of the best moments from Wimbledon victories at home against Gillingham.

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