AFC Wimbledon make the trip to Adams Park on Saturday in the last home encounter before Christmas.
The Chairboys will be looking to continue their strong run of form which has seen them beat Plymouth and Burton, and share the spoils with Sheffield Wednesday. Ahead of Wimbledon’s arrival, we spoke to Stu from the 9yrs Podcast about what to expect from the visitors.
Approaching the midpoint of the season, AFC Wimbledon sit 17th in the League One table, having collected 7 points from the last five. Can you talk us through some of those recent results?
We are a young team with an average age of 23.9 year old vs the League One average of 26.4 years old. This means we are going to be inconsistent as a number of our players are either in their first season in League One or in some cases the first season in professional football. Two of our recent wins have been in the FA Cup, with a hard fought battle against Guiseley from the Conference North, with the only difference being an Ollie Palmer first half goal. Last Saturday we had a 4-3 win over Cheltenham Town in the 2nd round of the FA Cup and nearly managed to squander a 4-1 lead after 65 minutes. Last time out we beat Accrington Stanley 2-0 at the Wham Stadium with the young guns of Luke McCormick and Ayoub Assal on the scoresheet.
Who have been the key players for Wimbledon so far this season? Any standout performers?
This is really challenging as we have had many good performances from this team, however if I had to choose, I would mention Nik Tzanev, Alex Woodyard and Ayoub Assal. Nik has been with Wimbledon since 2017 and has been a number two goalkeeper to many loan signings over the year. A loan move to Sutton in 2019 was successful and he made the Number One shirt his own from March this year. He recently earned a new contract and has made crucial saves in games this season as well as being instrumental in our style of playing from the back.
Alex Woodyard is the first name on the team sheet and is our captain this season. He's built up an excellent midfield relationship with Anthony Woodyard and is consistently an 8/10 performer - a great reader of the game and able to win possession and start of many attacks. He's he old man of this team of this team at 28 years old and is a great influence to the rest of the squad.
Ayoub Asall at 19 years old is already becoming one of the most feared wingers in League One; Pacey, direct, strong and has the grit and determination to give defenders a hard time over 90 minutes and has four goals in his last three games.
What sort of style will Mark Robinson be looking to employ against the Chairboys?
The win against Accrington in the week was a good warm up for Saturday's game. We have had many games against Wycombe over the years and know it will be a physical battle and we will need to compete. It will be important for us to impose our game and not try to win the physical battle, but get the ball down and play and use our pace and creativity to unlock Wycombe.
Have you seen much of the Chairboys this season? Where do you think they’ll pose the biggest threats for Wimbledon?
I haven’t seen them live over 90 minutes this season, but seen the action on Quest. There is lots of experience in this side with David Stockdale, Gareth McCleary and Sam Vokes, which will be another big test for our young team. I am expecting the main threats to come from set pieces and how we deal with these at both ends of the pitch could determine who comes out on top this afternoon.
Who have been the toughest tests for you so far this season? You’ve got some big games coming up against Oxford United, Plymouth and Ipswich.
Rotherham away and Sheffield Wednesday at home have been really tough tests. We had our only big drubbing this season at Rotherham, losing 3-0 and struggling with the physicality they possess. We came from two goals down to get a draw against Wednesday, but they were very good all over the pitch and we needed to be a our best to get back into the game late on. League One is full of big games this season and its very difficult to navigate thorough the fixtures to look where the next three points are coming from. We have already beaten Oxford 3-1 at home earlier in the season and had a 2-2 draw at Portman Road. If we keep up our current form, I will be confident of picking up a good number of points over the Christmas and New Year period especially having Portsmouth and Charlton at Plough Lane.
What’s your score prediction?
We don’t have a bad record at Adams Park and haven’t lost there since 2014. I think another 2-1 win could be on the cards, but I would happily leave with a point if you offered it at ten to three this afternoon.