Daily Archives: July 28, 2011

Crawley Town v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

Football is back. In July. On a Friday night. Has the world gone mad? It feels like we should be preparing ourselves for a home friendly against a Premier League clubs youth team or something, instead we head off to Crawley for proper action…

Firstly, lets not kid ourselves this is the first game of our season. It isn’t. Our first game is next week, at home to Bristol Rovers. This is a cup game that we just happen to be playing in the summer. Important it may be, and its nice to watch a meaningful game of football, but I think both sides are aware the real action kicks off next week. Maybe the occasion would have felt bigger had we not found ourselves playing each other… seven meetings within the space of twenty-two months, and our fourth trip to Broadfield, the novelty factor wore off pretty quickly…

I remember our first trip for the FA Cup tie, a short journey, plenty of Dons fans, a decent pub across from the ground… I remember thinking regular trips to Broadfield wouldn’t be so bad… Fast forward a couple of years, and we find ourselves repulsed at having to visit the Crawley we know and don’t love, all concrete and dog shit and overgrown grass verges.

The fact we never win there probably doesn’t help… Terry Brown probably summed our expectations for the game up best during his interview after the Watford friendly, telling Dons fans his side would be looking to cause a shock on Friday night. Despite finishing one place below Crawley last year, victory at Broadfield would be a more than impressive start…

Crawley have done nothing but strengthen over the summer, and lets face it, a weaker Wimbledon side than finished the season will be travelling down to Sussex. Thats probably an unfair way of putting it, perhaps rebuilding would be a better term… but it’s true. We might have stood a chance of staying with Crawley for six months of last season, what with all our games in hand, but this time around they are favourites for League Two for a reason, that being piles and piles of cash.

Money the Dons can’t possibly compete with over forty-six games, but Friday night is a cup tie, ninety minutes (plus potential extra time and penalties…), we might not be exactly where TB wants us at the moment but our squad are no mugs. You don’t expect either side to be at 100% at this time of year, and magnificent victory or crushing defeat could depend on variations in either sides preseason.

Which might worry a few of you. I think everyone accepts this preseason hasn’t entirely gone to plan, and certainly hasn’t been long enough, and I wonder whether TB considers they have fitted enough in to the time they did have together. He certainly wouldn’t say as much in the press, so this is pure conjecture, but if Crawley are well ahead of us in terms of fitness we could have real problems tomorrow night. They already have a huge advantage in terms of depth and experience… if they are even a few days ahead of us in terms of fitness, this tie could turn out to be a bit of a drubbing.

So far in this preview I’ve talked myself out of believing we have any chance of facing Palace next month, where are the positives? Taking fifteen players from last season points to our main strength… continuity. This is still the same young squad that dragged us out of the Conference last season, who will go out and play their football without fear. Our back four and midfield are just as strong as they were last season, and while we might not have that twenty goal a season striker just yet, we have forwards who possess the ability to unlock most defences.

With no form to go on beyond largely meaningless preseason results, our first competitive game will always be tough to call – whatever happens in twenty-four hours time will dictate our mood going into the Bristol Rovers game, but defeat won’t necessarily be the end of the world… a decent performance in a battling defeat will suit me. And if I find myself heading back up the M23 dreaming of Selhurst Park, well that would be a nice little bonus…

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