No Mansfield for me tomorrow. Unfortunately two vacationing colleagues mean the Anonymous Don will be chained to a desk when the coach leaves Kingsmeadow, and the success of this blog means if I ‘pull a sickie’ my boss wouldn’t take too kindly to reading all about our latest brilliant victory/tame capitulation the next day. Not that I would even consider such a course of action these days… having said that I remember bunking off school for various evening away games back in the early nineties. A 3-2 win at Liverpool, an FA Cup third round replay victory at a sparsely populated Goodison Park… further back, the coldest night ever at Meadow Lane for a 1-1 draw with Notts County. Indeed, I have had some good times following the Dons when I shouldn’t strictly have been following the Dons. It’s a bit different when you’re doing it for a wage though…
Of course this is hugely annoying. I’ll miss not just Mansfield but Wrexham too (as I’m moving house), two precious games taking place while I’m still in the country, taking place at grounds I haven’t had the chance to visit yet, gone by the wayside. Beyond personal irritation, they are shaping up the be a pair of decent fixtures too. Despite their managers tendency to blow the majority of their large budget on has-beens, Wrexham is still a difficult place to go. First though, Mansfield, and our hosts tomorrow night look as though they are shaping up to be real promotion contenders.
The young Dons are getting over the unexpected hiccup that was Forest Green, yet seem to be bolstered by some good news injury-wise. With Brett Johnson seemingly set to sit out for the rest of the month, its hugely important that Ismail Yakubu seems set to return. Yakubu’s return brings a host of unseen benefits, beyond the obvious fact that he’s a beast in the air in both eighteen yard boxes. His experience and ability to talk the younger players through the game is invaluable, especially with the prospect of having Harris and Blackman flanking him. Terry Brown wasn’t just making excuses when he mentioned the age of the side in his post match interview, I feel if he is fit his return is nailed on against potentially dangerous opponents. The only question is whether Franks or Harris will miss out, I think I hinted on who I expect to see play alongside Yak in the previous sentence, so I’ll stick with Harris…
Steven Gregory’s immediate return is fortunate, I have to say I didn’t notice his on-field chunder on Saturday and presumed the worst when he was withdrawn. Hopefully he will be back to his consistent best tomorrow night, but his withdrawal did give Luke Moore the chance to return to action. Moore was my standout player when he came on at the weekend, and despite Jolley’s fantastic effort (which looks even better on AFCW TV – for those who haven’t seen it yet go and have a look now. Don’t worry, we’ll wait, and if you haven’t got AFCW TV in your bookmarks -and why wouldn’t you? – you can find it here. Just forward on to 3.57 in…) I thought Moore came closest to hauling the momentum back in the Dons direction. I’m looking forward to seeing Luke back in form, and perhaps more importantly finding his place in the new system. His previous appearances have been restricted to the right attacking role that Ryan Jackson has made his own, and he hasn’t quite excelled there yet. If Jackson isn’t fit enough to start tomorrow I’d wouldn’t mind seeing Moore given another crack there – the player I’d really like to see in that position is Mark Nwokeji, but that’s a debate we’ll have to save for when he actually manages an extended period of game time.
One change I can see is Yussuff replacing Wellard. Toks has looked a lot better coming into games from the bench than he has during his rare starts, but Wellard faded badly on Saturday to the point you started to wonder whether he had picked up whatever illness Gregory had… Now I’m not saying Wellard has been poor this season, but I get the impression his manager wants him to be a lot more incisive than he has so far. Toks came onto the field at the weekend and pretty much immediately carved his way thought the massed ranks of the Forest Green defence to create a great chance for Sammy Moore, and that might be enough to see him given another chance tomorrow night.
I didn’t write a match preview for Forest Green, so here’s a chance for back-to-back correct expected line-ups after last weeks correct 1-11 for the Cambridge game, and tomorrow I expect us to line up as follows;
Brown; Hatton, Blackman, Yakubu, Harris; Gregory, Moore S, Yussuff; Jolley, Jackson, Kedwell