AFC Wimbledon’s patchy form continued on Saturday when they were beaten 2-0 at Plough Lane by the commanding third-placed Wigan.
After a fine win at Lincoln City in midweek, it was back to earth with a mighty bump as promotion hopefuls Wigan Athletic came visiting. Swift on the break and about two stone heavier across the pitch in every position, this was a rough day for The Dons youngsters. The defeat could have been heavier, but for some great goal keeping by Nik Tzanev and couple of clearances off the line by defenders kept the scoreline respectable.
Here are Laurence Lowne’s five takeaways from the Dons’ defeat.
BIG SPENDERS CAN BUY FIREPOWER
Having a forward line that cost rather a lot gives a team options. In Charlie Wyke, who was on loan at Kingsmeadow in 2014 and scored 31 goals last season, Wigan Athletic have a player who knows how to score. Wimbledon, presently without Ollie Palmer, look a little light in that department. Aaron Pressley hustled as best he could, but supply for him this time was minimal.
REFEREES MAY NOT PROTECT ASSAL
For once, the Dons had referee who recognised that the Wigan players were taking it in turn to nullify – by fair means or foul – the attacking prowess of Ayoub Assal. There were three bookings for Wigan players and all for fouls on Assal.
A collective red card would have been welcome, but the laws of the game do not allow that yet.
Regretfully for the all the great spotting by the referee, he missed the shirt pulling on several other players. But you can see why Wigan have only conceded nine League goals this season with their tight organisation.
THE INJURY LIST IS GETTING LONGER
A mounting injury list for Wimbledon’s coach Mark Robinson was extended further when Paul Kalambyi was stretchered off in added time, as his knee collapsed under a challenge. With Will Nightingale already out, Ben Heneghan will soon have a new partner in defence, and it will either be Dan Csoka or Darius Charles.
PLOUGH LANE IS BRINGING IN THE CROWDS
Each match the programme finds more to write about and this game saw all attendances feature for the first time. A quick comparison with the last full league season at Kingsmeadow shows in 2018/19 an average attendance of 4,140, whilst after seven matches at Plough Lane the present average is 7,662. The new stadium is delivering more than an 80 per cent increase in attendances for AFC Wimbledon.
There was much talk on social media over the weekend amongst supporters about how to increase home capacity – too soon one suspects, when scoring more goals and conceding fewer is more pressing.
Long-term supporters and former players are coming to the borough to visit the clubs’ permanent home at Plough Lane. They arrive, they look at the stadium in awe and pose for their selfie.
Among them has been a former loan keeper – Aaron Ramsdale now of Arsenal and England, paid his first visit and picked up where he had left off after his loan in 2019. He greeted adults and kids alike as if he was walking into Kingsmeadow again and meeting up with long-standing friends, rather than an international star who Sheffield United bought for £18.5million a year after his Dons loan ended.
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.