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Preview: Mark expects much better with Shrewsbury up next

Our Head Coach interviewed ahead of tonight’s match

2 March 2021

Head Coach Mark Robinson said that there can be no repeat of Wimbledon’s ‘tepid’ performance on Saturday, as he aims to guide the Dons to League One safety.

With 17 matches remaining, Wimbledon’s players are in control of their own destiny with only goal difference currently placing the Dons in the relegation zone and with games in hand.

It’s certainly a far cry from exactly two years ago when Wimbledon, then managed by Wally Downes, came away from Shrewsbury with a 0-0 draw that left them nine points from safety. Ultimately, the Great Escape followed, and Wimbledon will now be aiming to guarantee a sixth season in League One by staying up again.

Tonight’s match offers a chance to secure a first Wimbledon victory at Shrewsbury since 1984 when the two clubs were in the old Division Two. It will be far from easy though against a Shrewsbury side currently nine points above the Dons. Aaron Wilbraham has been in temporary charge of first-team matters with former Dons player Steve Cotterill suffering from illness, but Shrews have still been putting points on the board recently, including an impressive home win against promotion contenders Sunderland.

The thoughts of all at AFC Wimbledon are with Steve Cotterill’s family and friends after he was readmitted to hospital and we hope he makes a full recovery as soon as possible.

Below are quotes from both camps, plus a look at previous matches, and stats, ahead of tonight’s game.

Mark Robinson

“Our approach is that there are 51 points to play for and we need to take as many of them as possible. If we start talking about mini leagues it just puts us under a pressure that we don’t need. The only pressure on them is to be the best that they can be every single day and there are 51 points to play for, so we need to take as many of them as we can.

“It will need to be better than Wigan because we were only really good for 35 minutes. We are capable of better. That was only the first game that we were together, so I know they are more than capable of doing better. They played well for 45 minutes at Peterborough, but we had a poor 10 minutes. Gillingham was a lot better, but then on Saturday we went away from where we are aiming to go. They started doing things off their own backs that was away from what we’ve talked about. The end result was a very tepid performance. I said that it can’t happen again and I’m sure it won’t.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying it, to be honest. I love the challenges. Throughout a large part of my life I have taken myself hugely out of my comfort zone. If you don’t enjoy challenges and you want to be the head coach of a football club you are not in the right job, so I’m enjoying the challenges. Obviously, you don’t enjoy the defeats, but as long as you stay process driven then you feel that you are in charge of your own destiny. That’s where I feel we are.

“We are talking about a big change in mindsets. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. They say that to change a bad habit takes 90 days of opposite behaviour. We haven’t got 90 days, but I have seen a massive change in the way the boys are looking at things. I am having honest conversations with them and their reactions have been good. It’s about taking away the deflection and looking at things honestly, getting rid of the ifs, buts, and maybes. They have to realise that it is nothing personal and it is to make things better and to help the club to grow. I wasn’t pleased with Saturday’s performance, but I am really pleased with their reflection and their attitude towards it.”

Aaron Wilbraham

"They are a strong team with a good togetherness. The manager has still been in contact with me about the game which is typical of him. We are all putting the work in and we will be prepared for the fixture. We will have to be ready for a really tough game.

"We are looking to bounce back from our defeat on Saturday. We need to be firing on all cylinders. They were unlucky on Saturday even though the scoreline doesn't reflect that. We have always bounced back from defeat and that's what we are looking to do.

"It's always good to get back out on the field and put things right. We couldn't get going on Saturday and we have to change that tomorrow night. There are always danger-men in every team and we need to look out for that."

Previous meetings

The Dons have only won once in 12 matches versus Shrewsbury since returning to the league in 2011. That came on 5 May 2012 as Wimbledon finished the first season after promotion on a high with a double by Luke Moore and a Byron Harrison goal. The Shrews came into that match having already achieved promotion. Five of the past 12 matches versus Shrewsbury have ended in draws and the most important of those for Wimbledon came exactly two years ago when the Dons earned what turned out to be a precious point in the Great Escape. That 0-0 draw at Shrewsbury left the Dons still nine points off safety, but a massive turnaround was completed on the final day with a draw at Bradford, as players, staff, and supporters celebrated together on the pitch.

Rewind

Saturday 9th August 2014: League 2

AFC Wimbledon (1) 2 Tubbs 26, Rigg 74

Shrewsbury Town (1) 2 Collins 9, 84

After our first three Football League campaigns had all ended in bottom half finishes, Dons fans were hoping for a shot at the play-off places after July saw the arrival of nine new faces, including the capture of Matt Tubbs. The prolific striker hit the target on his debut, as the Dons secured an opening day draw with a Shrewsbury side amongst the play-off favourites after relegation. Sean Rigg also scored on his debut in a match when the Dons secured a creditable draw against one of the promotion favourites. Click on the link below to watch highlights from that game.

Form guide (last six in all comps, starting with most recent)

Shrewsbury LWDWWL

Wimbledon LWLWLL

Last time out

Bristol Rovers 2-1 Shrewsbury

AFC Wimbledon 0-3 Hull City

Top scorers

Shrewsbury – Shaun Walley (6)

Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (15)

Match coverage

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