The Dons get the chance to bounce right back from their third defeat of the season as Cambridge visit Kingsmeadow for a rare Wednesday fixture – not quite as rare as last Thursdays game, but a clash with televised Champions League football means it’s unlikely we will see anywhere near the 4000 that poured through the gates that night. Cambridge supporters travel in decent numbers, have a fair few London based supporters anyway and should bring enough to provide comfortably more than what passes as an average gate at Kingsmeadow these days. Having said that, more than 400 Dons fans witnessed what was perhaps the best advert for staying in and watching Man U on tv up in Kidderminster on Sunday, I can only thank my lucky stars my opinion of the side is still around post-Crawley levels after that brainwashing.
That and the fact that visitors Cambridge status as an ex-League club is starting to fade badly – five years in the Conference is enough to do that to any club, and for all the kind words from Terry Brown on the O/S they don’t seemto be in a position to reclaim their place any time soon. In fact they’re in danger of falling to Kidderminster levels (i.e. spent so long in the division you kind of forget they were ever a League club to start with…). When you see the sort of summer signings Martin Ling made over the summer, well you wonder for all the nice plaudits just how competitive they are going to be this season.
Case study number one – Daryl Clare. Clare, who has now represented every club ever to feature in the Conference, was last seen tripping over the ball with an open goal gaping at his mercy while representing Gateshead on the last day of the season. It’s fair to say Cambridge have made the sort of signing you would have expected Bath or Southport to make… not exactly the sort of move that will see fans up and down the country running to the bookies to get their each-way bet on the U’s this season. You wonder whether this is Lings ‘Grazioli Moment’… picking up a player who ripped this division to shreds five years previously but is now well past his best, more in hope than expectation of a career Indian Summer…
Because of the chronic lack of goal scoring talent in this division, combined with the systematic stockpiling of strikers going on at Luton and (mainly) Crawley, you can’t blame Ling for taking a punt on Clare… but I tell you what, I would much rather have picked up Mark Nwokeji over the summer… (oh look, we did). I get the impression an injury prone Nokkers will play more of a part than a static, slightly confused as to who he’s playing for these days, former danger man who dare I say it is only in it for the pay packet…
Case study number two – Ling signed Danny Naisbitt as his number two goalkeeper. Or as he was known during his days as Dons captain (captain!), Danny Fucking Naisbitt. To be fair to Danny, he did have a sweet left foot on him, which was really useful for hoofing the ball back to the half way line after the latest bunch or Ryman League chancers had breached the Anderson-era Dons defense once again. And I’m a big fan of DA… but that one had to go down in the ‘mistake’ column. I thought Danny had found his level at Cambridge City, raised an eyebrow when pre-cash crisis Histon employed him as ball launcher extraordinaire … perhaps Ling likes him being on the bench with him, but fails to realize if anything happens to Brown, Naisbitt will be forced to actually keep goal…
Much as we may try and forget Naisbitt’s spell as Dons captain, perhaps Danny doesn’t look back on it with a great deal of pride either. To the point he seems to have negotiated in his contract his spell at the Dons will never be mentioned – his profile on the Cambridge website certainly has an AFC Wimbledon shaped hole in it – it’s like viewing the CV of someone who spent a year in the clink. If you think this might have been an oversight, the Cambridge O/S match preview even goes as far as stressing neither club will feature a player that had previously played for the opposition. Did we just dream it? Was it a collective nightmare that has somehow imprinted itself on the AFC Wimbledon website archive circa 2004?
On to the Dons now, and the website reports that Jolley, Moore (L) and Yakubu have returned to full fitness, so Terry will have a few decisions to make. Perhaps the most nailed on returnee will be Yakubu – I mean Harris and Franks have been superb, and it would be unfair to have to choose between the two. I’m going to anyway, I’m just saying what I’m about to do is unfair… on Fraser Franks. I just think Ed Harris has shown a little bit more in the short while he’s been at the club… enough even to force Brett Johnson into a spell at left back? And where would that leave Andre? What about Chris Bush? I wouldn’t want to guess what Terry Brown is going to do tomorrow – the mythical creature that is the regular reader will know this is where I normally try to do just that…not today however. Well, thinking about it, actually – why not? It’s not as if Im getting marked on this… 4-3-3 usual formation;
The question is, will it be enough to see off Cambridge? My gut tells me a low scoring draw, my positive side says don’t worry about it yet I get the impression we are overdue finding ourselves 0-3 down at home after ten minutes, scratching our heads wondering whether the lads will find a way back into the game,,, the short answer, I suppose, would be don’t take gambling advice from the Anonymous Don…