The Basingstoke Match Preview

Apologies for the delay in this preview. This was partly caused by a busy work day, partly by jetlag, but mainly down to Tiscali, surely the worst internet provider this side of the Atlantic…

OVERVIEW

The Anonymous Don is back from holiday and ready to go once more. In my absence our lovely Wombles won 2-0 against Team Bath, which looked a bit shaky judging by the highlights on AFC Wimbledon TV. Although that could just have been the camera work… Was it windy or was the cameraman replaced by a one legged man balancing on a stool for the whole game? The quality of coverage is normally excellent, perhaps it only appeared wobbly as I normaly know what to expect, and perhaps my mind adjusts the image accordingly. Either way, its a great service, and one that I was extremely grateful for, so perhaps I should stop quibbling about details? I may start getting a John Smith Stand style reputation…

And you would have to have been on a different continent not to have caught the Chelmo-Hampton score on Monday. Which of course I was. Broken internet at my in-laws family home meant no findie outie scorie for Neiley until late Tuesday. Still, I allowed myself a quick pump of my clenched fist (ooh-err…) in celebration. No full on champagne opening of course, we will save that for promotion, be that this weekend, next weekend, May, or next season (fingers crossed, touch wood, preferring to sacrifice one of my cats to the Football Gods).

So this weekend is now set up nicely. In true Sky Sports style the top three teams fixtures are spread out over Friday and Saturday, with Eastleigh kicking off the feast hosting the Bromleyites at 12:30. A win would put pressure on the Dons large style as we take on Basingstoke at 3.00. Similarly the Dons can heap that back onto Hampton and then some as the Trumptonites strangely kept their game on Saturday, meaning most of their usual loyal supporters will be at Stamford Bridge or Griffin Park (or at home watching Soccer Saturday). Still I would imagine a fair few Dons will be there too, The Anonymous Don included. You’ll be able to find a full match report on this very blog come Sunday morning…

HOME

No injury worries for us thankfully, with the exception of Goodliffe and long term victim Taylor. Lewis is apparently fully fit and raring to go, But TBs view (shared by myself for what its worth) is that adding another cog to the midfield gearbox might cause more damage than good, both to our chances of the title and to Lewis himself. Sammy H has been good enough for 38 games so he will do for now, and Tom Davis has stepped up to the plate foll0wing Saunders arrival.

The big question is whether TB will go for three forwards as he appeared to against Team Bath. With Ibe coming to the end of his loan and heading back to Ebbsfleet (or whatever they are calling themselves this week) the temptation to rinse all we can get from him must be a huge one, especially playing three games in 72 hours. Either way, the game depends on us taking our chances, so as not to add unwanted pressure as the game progresses.

Finally, news reaches me that prolific hitman Belal Aitouakrim has joined Maidenhead on loan. After all of Maidenheads problems of late I’m just wondering what they have done to deserve this latest stroke of misfortune…

AWAY

I’m going to confess straight away I haven’t been able to do my usual meticulous research on our visitors, suffice to say the match preview in the Basingstoke Gazette seems to be heavy on previewing the Dons rather than their own side, with talk of 3,000 crowds and all that. And Their Cup Final is all ‘Stoke have to play for now, with news filtering out earlier in the day that Team Bath have decided to resign from the league effective from the end of the season. Even before this news The Dragons were sitting pretty with only a dramatic loss of form and miracle results elsewhere would have put them in any danger after they beat relegation rivals Thurrock 1-0 last weekend.

Since the Dons 1-0 victory in Hampshire, Basingstoke have slowly evolved into a solid unit, another piece of the jigsaw being added last week with the arrival of Lewis Christon. A raw Christon impressed for Wimbledon towards the end of last term, showing composure, pace and strength in equal measures. Despite his release by Wycombe, a year is a long time for a young player to improve his game, and despite being overlooked by many teams including ourselves when he became a free agent, I’m sure he will be looking to remind us of his talents come 3pm Friday. Its worth noting that players do not pick up Football League appearances for no reason, and Christon has seven to his name. He is going to be one to watch not just tomorrow, but through the reaminder of this season into next.

THE FANS

Us – Despite another 3000 plus attendance last week, achieved without visiting support, I can’t help but feel it was a little on the low side for a Dons team still serious title contenders. One reason could be the lack of Norbiton Station, closed again tomorrow, causing transport nightmares for supporters reliant on South West Trains for their AFCW fix.

However the club, as usual, have thought ahead and made sure the game took place on the Bank Holiday. And its a bit of a crappy holiday is Good Friday. Theres no other attractions to turn fans heads, most family meals and meet ups are arranged for Easter Sunday or Monday. With the religious side to the holiday now thankfully a relic of the past, there is no excuse for a huge crowd at the Meadow.

But what sort of crowd will arrive. A quiet, nervous one, allowing less supportive elements to make themselves heard? Or from the start a cauldron of noise the like of which is only seen at Kingsmeadow on almost random occasions once or twice a season. For the teams sake, we can only hope for the latter.

Them -Like most visiting teams looking forward to the occasion, to celebrating their safety and looking forward to brighter futures. Plus you get the sense that they smell blood. With the Dons desperate for a result, ‘Stoke fans know an upset is there for the taking.With forum estimates ranging from 50-200, and talk of balloons and confetti they will at least be colourful (incidentally, Kingstonian are planning a ticker tape welcome for their players should they win the Ryman South title, and some supporters are planning on bringing brooms to clear up after them! How considerate to their tenants… this would never have happened in the days of Wimbledon FC at Selhurst Park!)

BLUE SQUARE

AFC Wimbledon    4/11

Draw    16/5

Basingstoke    6/1

Well, surprise! No value again for Dons fans of course, in fact it will be a mild surprise to most when we eventually reach the Conference National (be it this year or whenever – you know the drill) and find ourselves outsiders for a home game. The 13/5 the sponsors are offering on Handicap for a draw (ie a single goal victory for the Dons) looks good for what could be a tight game. Those who do not share my sensible/boring prediction will be looking at the 8-0 at 150/1 in anticipation at coining it in once more from a company who once again are giving reserved pricing more for profits sake than any great confidence in the Dons. 

THE ANONYMOUS OPINION

Its going to be tight, tough and nervy. We should have most of the game but if Basingstoke are patient theres always a chance they could hit us with a sucker punch unless we take our chances, and take them early, if only for the sake of everyones blood pressure.

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