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Preview: Robbo seeks bold response versus Rovers

Quotes from both camps ahead of important League One match

12 March 2021

Club News

Preview: Robbo seeks bold response versus Rovers

Quotes from both camps ahead of important League One match

12 March 2021

Mark Robinson said that he will be looking for the Dons to show much more attacking threat at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

As revealed yesterday, our Head Coach talked with the players late into the night about improving matters after Wimbledon failed to hit the back of the net at Plough Lane on Tuesday night.

On Saturday, the Dons head west to Bristol Rovers, a side with three points more at this stage of the season, though they have played a game more than us. The last two visits to the Memorial Stadium have ended in victories for the Dons. It’s also a venue that our young midfielder Jack Rudoni has particularly enjoyed playing at. On Boxing Day 2019, ‘Rudi’ made his full Dons debut in a 2-1 win (the picture above shows him celebrating in that match) and he scored the winner in our last visit to Bristol Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Below are quotes from both camps, plus a look at past games versus Rovers, and stats.

Mark Robinson

“We are always looking for a positive response, even when we win games. We’ve gone through a lot of the game (on Tuesday) and we need to be more effective, but at the same time it’s really key that we don’t get knee-jerk. We must also look at the things that we’ve done well. There are lots of little things that we’ve done well, that we’ve improved on, that people might not notice. It’s so important that we don’t get knee-jerk and we still have that decent framework, but the things that need to be better were quite evident the other night. We needed to carry more threat, but by the same token you have to give them (Burton) more respect and they had won five out of six before they played us for a reason. They had brought in 11 new players, they were very organised, and they worked very hard, but there were positives in there.

“The players’ job is to come in every single day and be learners, being the best that they can be. That’s their role and our job is to give them that knowledge and the environment where they are thriving. With the medical team, they are always looking ahead because with the schedule we have coming up and the way I want the players to play, we have got to have as many players fit and able as possible.

“This is about winning football matches. There are players disappointed (not to be in the team) and I’ve had meetings with them, but that’s a positive. I would be disappointed if they were not knocking at my door and saying that they wanted to play, but at the same time I’ve got to make sure that their perception of what I believe is a top performance is the same as mine. We do that by showing them clips and where we believe they need to improve, but everyone needs to improve.

“It will be a completely different test (on Saturday). We’ve had a good look at them and the threats they offer. As always, we’ve had a bigger look at them in terms of what we can do to hurt them.”

Clint Hill (Assistant Manager)

“I think that performances overall have been good. We probably deserved a few more points than we’ve actually got, but we believe that through good preparation and performances the results will follow. The lads have been brilliant since the first day that we’ve been in, so we are confident. We face a tough team on Saturday, a team in Wimbledon who are scrapping for their lives as well, so we give them that respect, but we know that if we perform to the levels that we did on Tuesday we will hopefully be okay.

“They are scrapping for their lives, as are five or six other teams, so every game that we go into we are trying not to look at the table. You just want to concentrate on your own performance and your own result. It will be tight right towards the end of the season I think. In this league with regular Saturday, Tuesday games there are going to be a lot of results that you probably wouldn’t have seen over the course of recent seasons, just because of the volume of games and the intensity to it.

“They have changed manager since the last time we played them. They have changed shape and they have some big players in there, including Nightingale, who we like. They also have Heneghan at the back and Pigott, who is a threat at this level. Like every team in this division, they have players who can hurt you if you allow them to. With the new manager coming in, he knows them very well, and he has taken on a few roles during his time at the club, and he has got them some good results in his short tenure. It is going to be a difficult game, but we have prepared well, we are confident, and we just have to execute now, which hopefully we will do on Saturday.”

Previous meetings

Since Wimbledon’s return to the league in 2011, the Dons have faced Bristol Rovers on 18 occasions. Rovers have won 10 with five victories for the Dons and three drawn matches. The Memorial Stadium was far from a happy hunting ground for Wimbledon until an impressive 3-1 win on 18 November 2018, thanks to goals by Andy Barcham, Harry Forrester, and Cody McDonald. The last two visits have ended in Wimbledon victories, most recently in January when Jack Rudoni struck the winner in the Papa John’s Trophy. Our last league visit to the Memorial Stadium was also a significant match for ‘Rudi’ as he made his full league debut in the 2-1 victory there on 26 December 2019. The Dons came from behind to earn a 2-1 win with goals by Marcus Forss and Joe Pigott. Click on the link below to watch a video of Wimbledon's victories at the Memorial Ground.

Going further back

After a handful of meetings in the last Millennium, the Dons and Bristol Rovers have become regular adversaries in recent years. Here we recall the 2011 meeting when the Pirates hijacked AFC Wimbledon's League Two debut and stole away with all three points.

Saturday 6th August 2011: League Two

AFC Wimbledon (1) 2 Stuart 39; Ademeno 68

Bristol Rovers (2) 3 McGleish17, Harrold 20, Virgo (pen) 85

Wearing white in honour of their predecessors who had made their Football League debut back in 1977, the new Dons took to the League Two stage for the first time in front of the Sky cameras and a full house at Kingsmeadow. Having fought back to level the score from two goals down, there was late drama as Terry Brown’s men gave away a penalty, after Brett Johnson had fluffed his lines by handling, and slipped to an opening day defeat at the hands of the just relegated Rovers.

Early strikes from Scott McGleish and Matt Harrold put the Pirates 2-0 up and in total control after just 20 minutes. Wimbledon fashioned a spirited response which saw skipper Jamie Stuart pull a goal back after 39 minutes before substitute Charles Ademeno hit an equaliser with 22 minutes remaining. Then centre back Johnson handled inside his own area in the 85th minute and Adam Virgo did the rest with a perfect spot-kick into the top corner.

“It doesn't need me to tell you that individual errors cost us the game,” a disappointed Terry Brown said afterwards. “I said to the players at full time that if I could have written a nightmare scenario for the first league game that AFC Wimbledon have played, it would be giving away three soft goals like we conceded. We will have to improve.” The manager got his wish as by early October, after 12 games, the Dons were sitting pretty in 5th place.

Dons; Brown, Hatton, Stuart, Johnson, Gwillim (Bush 81), Yussuff, Porter (Minshull 62), Wellard, L Moore, Midson, Jolley (Ademeno 66).

Form guide (last six, starting with most recent)

Bristol Rovers WLLWLL

AFC Wimbledon LDDLWL

Last time out

Bristol Rovers 4-1 Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Burton Albion

Top scorers

Bristol Rovers – Luke Leahy, Brandon Hanlan (both 8)

Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (15)

A focus on Bristol Rovers

In September 1883, in a meeting organised by school teacher Bill Somerton at the Eastville Restaurant on Stapleton Road in Bristol, the foundation was laid for the team that would go on to be known as Bristol Rovers. The area was at the time a rugby stronghold, and this led the fledgling club to be named after a local rugby side. Known as the Black Arabs in 1883–84, this was the only season that they used this name, and it was changed to Eastville Rovers for the following campaign. During the last few years of the 19th century, Eastville Rovers became known as Bristol Eastville Rovers, and on 7 February 1899 the club officially changed its name to Bristol Rovers.

Rovers have never played in the top-flight of English football, their highest position achieved on two occasions in the 1950s when they finished sixth in the second tier. A low moment in the recent history for Rovers came in 2014 when they were relegated from the Football League. However, keeping the faith with manager Darrell Clarke paid off as he led them to successive promotions, the Pirates earning a place in League One in the same season as Wimbledon, back in 2016. Following Paul Tisdale’s departure as manager earlier this season, former Fleetwood manager Joey Barton took over. Despite a difficult start when Rovers were beaten at home by Wigan, they have won their last two home matches, edging out Shrewsbury, before a 4-1 victory against Accrington Stanley in midweek. Zain Westbrooke, who came through Brentford’s academy, is the creative spark in midfield with five assists, providing the ammunition for Brandon Hanlan, who scored twice against Wimbledon in a 4-2 win at Plough Lane in December.

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