AFC Wimbledon v St Albans City – A Match Preview

OVERVIEW

The championship awaits...

The championship awaits...

With the title race all but over, the lack of yellow highlighting and ‘C’ where the ‘1’ should be on the Sky Sports News league table is the only giveaway that Wimbledon haven’t already secured promotion. A shock win for the Saints, coupled with an unlikely win by Hamton at a Maidenhead side eager to finish one of their best ever seasons on a high (although they cannot qualify for the playoffs due to ground issues). I shall be making no appeal for the fans to turn out in force on this occasion – the game sold out on Monday meaning 4600 Dons fans (plus 100 or so from St Albans) will get the chance to watch Jason Goodliffe step up to receive the Blue Square South Championship Trophy (which very much resembles a certain trophy a Wimbledon team picked up 21 years ago…).

HOME

With all news reports focusing on the ‘championship’ success at Hampton last week, nothing much has leaked from the home camp in terms of squad selection. I would imagine anyone who can walk will declare themselves fit for Saturdays game, although its fair to say Alan Inns suspension will continue to restrict his participation to cheerleader, joined by long term injury victims Andy Little and Luke Garrard. Rob Saunders returns to Farnborough as they seem set for the playoffs.

I’m sure we will be seeing a couple of our players for the last time on Saturday, and Ill speculate more on those in the coming weeks. Ultimately its down to Terry, and Im sure whatever his decision it will be a hard one (with the possible exception of Belal Aitouakrim…). As Paul Parker said early in the week, AFC Wimbledon will need to strengthen to meet our ambitions next year. ‘Promoted team needs to strengthen to compete at higher level’ shows what insight Parker has as a commentator, whatever next? ‘Strikers should try and shoot wherever possible’? ‘Floodlights should be turned on for night games’?. He really earns his money that Parker does…

AWAY

st20albans20city20fcWell, we’ve all heard the rumours. Saints have let a couple of players go and will be turning up at Kingsmeadow without a full bench. They also let legendary striker Lee Clarke leave the club recently, so surely they are there for the taking? Yeah, right! I cannot believe a club like St Albans will bring a team to Kingsmeadow that will roll over and die. They let Clarke go because of a knee injury that he just couldn’t seem to shake off, and even if we don’t see an identical team to that which faced us just a few short weeks ago, I doubt we will see a lack of professionalism from this side.

Standout player Paul Hakim has netted seventeen times in the league this term, and goalkeeper Paul Bastock seems to have been around forever at various clubs, yet is approaching 200 for the Saints alone in the twilight of his playing career. Dons fans will remember Jonathan Hunt as unfortunate not to get more first team opportunities in Wimbledon FC’s post relegation team of 2000, yet mainly for his goal against Middlesborough in the FA Cup that year.

This season their problem has been inconsistency. Back in August they destroyed Eastleigh 5-0 (although Eastleigh were rubbish at the time), and more recently won a point at Chelmsford as well as holding us to a point last month. All in there are enough positives to be taken from this season to encorage them for next term, and a victory against the champions will help, but can they really compete with Woking, Dover and their like?

THE FANS

Us – Its a sellout. We’re all pretty excited. There’s champions t-shirts and scarves ready to be sold. Theres a new edition of WUP on sale (at least I presume it will be on sale, unless they set an ultra early deadline for the first pre-season game). Unlike previous sellouts there will hopefully be a relaxed laid back atmosphere, kind of like Raynes Park Vale on the last day of the first CCL season, but probably without the 5-1 scoreline unfortunately.

The Dons fans have a lot to look forward to in the summer. The drip feed of announcements as to pre-season games and summer signings, the fixtures (which I believe are usually released only a week after the Premier/Football League ones – remember when we waited until late July to find out where we were going on the first day?). But before all that, theres a title to celebrate…

Them – Spent time in the Conference very recently, so Saints fans wouldn’t really be football supporters if they didn’t harbour even the slightest jealousy at having to come to Kingsmeadow on the day promotion is assured. On the whole they’ve had the sort of season we should expect next season, never looked like going down, but weren’t troubling the playoff scene either. In other words, mid-table mediocrity.

On the whole there seems to be far worse fans in the world than Saints fans, a couple have been grumbling on guestbooks about our success, and we have to remember the moaning that followed the attendance figure given after our previous meeting at KM, but on the whole they don’t seem a bad bunch. They’ve sold 100 terrace tickets and a handful of seats, so won’t be short of support and may make themselves heard when our lot settle down, sit back and enjoy the occasion.

PREVIOUS

17/12/05     Home     FA Trophy 1st Round        2-3

10/3/09       Away      Blue Square South               0-0

THE ANONYMOUS OPINION

Theres only two possible results tomorrow as far as I can see – A Dons win (and a big one) as the lads turn on the style as only champions can, or a dreary affair settled by a couple of overcelebrated St Albans goals as the boys look forward to beer, champagne and a post match lap of honour. Also I’m willing to bet at least one lucky lady will be going home with a Blue Square South Champions winners medal when a pissed up player accidentally drops one in when the mug gets passed round at The Peel that evening.

MEDIA LINKS

The Herts Advertiser – http://www.hertsad.co.uk/content/herts/stalbanscity/story.aspx?brand=HADOnline&category=SportStAlbansCity&tBrand=HertsCambsOnline&tCategory=SportStAlbansCity&itemid=WEED23%20Apr%202009%2016%3A17%3A33%3A987

Telegraph – http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/mattleach/blog/2009/04/24/crazy_gang_spirit_guides_afc_wimbledon_to_the_promised_land

and

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/5209102/AFC-Wimbledon-ready-to-secure-fourth-promotion-in-seven-years.html

Milton Keynes Citizen – http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/sport/The-Sports-Blog.5203889.jp

South London Press (various articles) – http://www.southlondonpress.co.uk/tn/searchresult.cfm?cat=Sport&sportdetail=Wimbledon

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