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MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs AFC Wimbledon

Town look to end winless run with victory over Dons this weekend…

9 December 2022

Club News

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs AFC Wimbledon

Town look to end winless run with victory over Dons this weekend…

9 December 2022

Swindon Town are back in action this Saturday as AFC Wimbledon visit the County Ground.

Having suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, Scott Lindsey’s side will be looking to bounce back against a Dons side full of confidence at the moment and on a good run.

Here’s our preview ahead of the game, which gets underway at 3pm.

The lowdown…

The Dons arrive at the County Ground on a run of fine form thanks to a seven game unbeaten streak which has propelled them up the League Two standings.

A key to their recent success has been a solid backline, with four consecutive clean sheets to their name.

The club was founded back in 2002 by a group of former Wimbledon supporters, after Wimbledon FC relocated to Milton Keynes.

After forming a squad from 230 hopeful trialists, the club began life in the ninth tier of English football.

Having reached the heights of the Isthmian League, The Wombles set the longest unbeaten run for any English senior side, going 78 league games without defeat.

In 2006, the Londoners were denied three back to back promotions following defeat in the play-offs, however, they wouldn’t need to wait too much longer as promotion arrived two years later as they earned a place in National League South.

They’d remain here for just one season as they claimed the championship title, and it would take a further two campaigns for them to navigate their way to another promotion.

After defeating Luton on penalties in the 2011 edition of the National League play-off final, The Dons became the first club formed in the twenty-first century to reach the EFL.

Now the youngest club in the Football League, the club found a sanctuary by finishing in mid-table during their debut season in League Two.

The following campaign, which marked their ten year anniversary, The Wombles pulled off a miraculous escape by surviving relegation on the final day.

In their fifth season in the fourth tier, The Dons would break the glass ceiling. In front of a Wembley crowd boasting 57,956, they secured their League One status by conquering Plymouth 2-0.

For the next six years the club would compete in the division with their highest finish of fifteenth coming in their inaugural season.

During that time, they returned to their original stomping ground – Plough Lane, before last season saw them relegated to League Two.

DID YOU KNOW? : Four players have featured for both AFC Wimbledon and Wimbledon FC during their playing careers.

Previous meetings…

There’s actually only ever been seven meetings between Swindon and AFC Wimbledon during their time, with the archives showing there’s never really been much between them.

Fans of both have witnessed two wins for The Dons and just the solitary  one for Town, wedged in between four draws since 2011.

The first meeting ten years ago saw the two face off in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, as Oliver Risser’s opening goal was cancelled out eight minutes from time by Toks Yussuff, forcing the tie to penalties, where Town held their nerve to win the shootout 3-1.

Just a few weeks later that season, their League Two fixture was scheduled at The Cherry Red Records Fans Stadium in front of just over 4,500 fans.

This time it was Swindon’s turn to dash the home sides spirits, as Alan Connell levelled after Sam Hatton had given the hosts the lead after just six minutes, and it ended all square.

Their January reverse in 2012 saw Swindon claim their only win over Wimbledon to date, courtesy of Paul Caddis and Alan Connell in a 2-0 victory at SN1.

Two further goalless draws ensued during the 2016/17 season as both battled it out for a point in League One.

It was then back-to-back defeats for Swindon during the next league double-header during 2020/21, as Town went down 1-0 at home and 4-1 away.

AFC Wimbledon’s season so far…

Despite an opening day victory over Gillingham, The Dons only managed two more in the eleven games in all competitions that followed.

However, Jackson’s side arrive at the County Ground tomorrow on a run of impressive form which has seen them move up to eleventh in the table, and just two points off Swindon in ninth.

Just one defeat in their last eight in all competitions has The Dons firing on all cylinders, with the only blemish on the record their FA Cup second round loss at home to Chesterfield last month.

It’s seven without losing in League Two as well, with their last reverse coming back in mid-October.

They also haven’t conceded a goal in their last four league encounters.  

The manager: Johnnie Jackson…

Johnnie Jackson is currently enjoying his time in the Dons hotseat, which is just his second managerial job.

Before landing the AFC Wimbledon gig last May, Jackson managed Charlton Athletic for a brief spell, initially as caretaker.

But after nine wins in thirteen games, the now 40-year-old earned the top job on a full-time basis.

Prior to management, Jackson lined up for Charlton 243 times over the course of eight years.

The combative midfielder progressed through the Spurs academy where he’d learn his trade during several loan spells, one of which brought him to Swindon in 2002 where he featured 13 times, scoring three goals.

He was recently nominated for the League Two Manager of the Month Award for November.

Players to watch…

1. Nik Tzanev

Lining up between the sticks this season for AFC Wimbledon is the impressive Nikola Tzanev.

The 25-year-old has played every minute of The Dons league campaign so far this term with seven clean sheets under his belt.

The stopper even claimed an assist as he set up a last gasp winner against Harrogate back in October.

He’s been with the club since 2017 and is now approaching a century of appearances, and before joining The Wombles, Tzanev enhanced his game in the Crystal Palace and Brentford youth setups.

Born in New Zealand, the six-foot five-inch keeper has one international cap to his name, coming on against Chinese Taipei during the 2018 Intercontinental Cup.

26. Jack Currie

The 20-year-old has been with AFC Wimbledon since the age of just ten.

The full-back would learn his trade thanks to a myriad of loan spells which include the likes of Leatherhead and Eastbourne Borough.

In late July, the youngster netted on his league debut as he scored the second goal in a 2-0 victory over Gillingham.

He has since caught the eye with his offensive capabilities when he assisted the winning strike against Rochdale in October.

2. Chris Gunter

Fresh from the World Cup in Qatar, the Welshman offers the AFC Wimbledon back line some valuable experience.

Only Gareth Bale can trump Gunter’s international appearance tally, and the full-back was a stalwart for Wales at the 2016 European Championships, helping them reach the semi-final stages during a memorable tournament.

Five years on, the 33-year-old would again feature on the big stage, making the squad for Euro 2020.

At club level, the defender has played for an array of big sides.

After a short spell at Tottenham, Gunter lined up over 150 times for Nottingham Forest.

Next on the cards was a move to Premier League outfit Reading, where he would remain for eight years, racking up over 300 appearances for The Royals.

During his stay at the Madejski Stadium, Gunter was named Welsh Footballer of the Year in 2017.

8. Harry Pell

The veteran is in his second spell at the club having re-joined from Accrington Stanley last summer.

The midfielder spent twelve years in the Charlton academy before switching his loyalties to Bristol Rovers.

Despite being limited to just ten outings, Pell picked up a Young Player of the Year award for his efforts.

Next on the cards was a move to Hereford United where he scored his first goal for the club in a 3-3 draw with Swindon eleven years ago.

He first joined The Dons in 2013 where he’d remain until 2015, before going on to feature more than 130 times for Cheltenham and helping them return to the EFL in 2016.

Stints would later follow at Colchester United and Accrington Stanley before he returned back to Wimbledon.

11. Ethan Chislet

The South African-born Chislet has been in fine form this campaign, but has taken an unusual path into the EFL.

Aged 24, he has turned out for the Metropolitan Police on two separate occasions, as well as Basingstoke Town and Catalan side CF Reddish.

However, it was his form at Aldershot Town that persuaded AFC Wimbledon to take a chance on him.

Having scored nine times in 38 games for The Shots, Chislet signed for The Dons in 2020.

He immediately made an impact at Plough Lane, taking just twenty seconds to net on his league debut.

So far this season, he has seven goals to his name.

10. Ayoub Assal

The 20-year-old is another AFC Wimbledon winger who is enjoying an impressive season.

The young ace is a product of the AFC Wimbledon academy, and since signing his first professional contract with the club in 2019, he has spent time out on loan with the Metropolitan Police and Billericay.

The Wombles number 10 has since gone on to claim twelve League One goals for the club.

So far this campaign, Assal has already notched a further nine strikes in all competitions.

9. Josh Davison

It wasn’t so long ago that Davison was firing Swindon Town towards League One.

The big number nine grew up in the Peterborough academy and after leaving The Posh, enjoyed a prolific spell at Enfield Town, scoring sixteen times in 21 games.

His form earned the attention of Charlton Athletic who signed him in 2019.

Davison immediately made an impact as he scored on his debut against West Brom, and while at the club, the forward was sent out to develop his game on loan at Woking, Forest Green Rovers, and of course Swindon.

He is currently top of the scoring charts for The Wombles.

 

 


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