This time Dons columnist Dominic Damesick hopes the televised trip to Tranmere doesn’t go the same way as their last two games in front of the cameras and end 0-0.
If I could have chosen, I would rather not have played AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup. MK Dons have little to gain from it, and will be vilified by the media and football community in the build-up and aftermath of the match.
All one can hope for is that the match passes safely, without any major incidents, and that Dons – the MK ones – progress through to the second round. I have already, on two occasions, been forced to clarify that the Dons I’m talking about are the ones of the Milton Keynes variety, and this sort of confusion cannot continue to go unresolved.
Can I respectfully suggest, therefore, that in the build-up to the game, AFC Wimbledon just refer to themselves as the ‘Wombles’ or the ‘Kingstonian crew’? The choice is theirs entirely. As our south west London cousins have been only too keen to remind each other recently, when discussing which of them will and will not be attending the FA Cup tie, respecting the choices of your fellow football fan is of the utmost importance.
The Dons – you know which ones – have far more pressing matters to attend to, however, starting with tonight’s difficult match away at league leaders Tranmere Rovers. Anyone who claims that they foresaw Tranmere sitting top of the pile come the middle of November is either lying or... No, they must just be lying.
Yet, this only serves to heighten the respect and admiration one should have for Ronnie Moore and his Tranmere team, who have proven that their good start to the season was no fluke, despite the calls that it would never last from pundits and fans everywhere – myself included.
Jake Cassidy, on loan from Wolves, leads the League 1 goalscoring charts with 10 strikes to his name, and midfielder Andy Robinson has managed to resurrect his career at Prenton Park (after a disappointing spell at Leeds) after re-joining the club he was originally contracted to back in 2002/2003.
Tranmere are struggling with injuries as of late, but do have club legend Ian Goodison to call upon, if needed, to fill in at the heart of defence. The Jamaican international may have the turning circle of a combine harvester, but he certainly takes no prisoners, being dominant in the air and crunching in the tackle – an assignment for Alan Smith perhaps?
Karl Robinson is expected to name the same side that started against Sheffield United last Saturday, and so he should. Despite calls for Mathias Doumbe or Adam Chicksen to be given starting berths, the current Dons back four have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the league, and up front Ryan Lowe has looked far sharper in his last few outings.
Hopefully, though, Robinson will readily employ his substitutes if and when needed. If more physical presence is required up front, Smith; if Dons want pace against tiring Tranmere legs, Ibra Sekajja; if the wingers have run out of steam, Adam Chicksen or Jay O’Shea (or possibly Daniel Powell, if he returns from injury tonight).
Robinson has built a side this year that makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity, and it’s crucial that he utilises the options at his disposal when the situation requires it. As for a prediction: Dons have been on television twice so far this season, and both games have finished 0-0 – incidentally Dons’ only two goalless draws of the campaign to date.
With Tranmere’s impressive scoring record in the league so far – 35 in 17 games – and Dons’ forward line looking like it might be starting to click, I cannot envisage that tonight’s game will stick to the same pattern. Expect entertainment and excitement. Anyone know of any pubs in Wimbledon that are showing the game?
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