We take a look at Neal Ardley’s AFC Wimbledon as part of our League 2 preview ahead of the new season.
We continue our preview of League 2 by taking a look at AFC Wimbledon. To find out when we face Neal Ardley's side, check the official website on 19th June.
AFC Wimbledon were founded after Wimbledon FC moved to Milton Keynes in 2002. Originally entering the Combined Counties League, in the ninth tier of the footballing pyramid, the Dons rose through the divisions, winning numerous promotions before reaching the Blue Square Premier League in 2009. Two years later and the Wombles finished runners up to Crawley Town in the BSP. They entered the play-offs and destroyed Fleetwood Town 8-1 on aggregate. That set up a Final against Luton Town at the City of Manchester Stadium, and after the scores finished 0-0 after extra time, Danny Kedwell scored the decisive penalty as Terry Brown’s side won promotion to League 2. This coming season will be the club’s third in the Football League.
40 year-old Neal Ardley is the manager of AFC Wimbledon. Appointed in October 2012 after Terry Brown’s dismissal, it is Ardley’s first managerial job. A former Millwall, Cardiff City and Watford midfielder, Ardley began his career at Wimbledon FC where he spent 11 years, culminating in over 250 appearances for the club.
Self confessed Dons fan Seb Brown, will compete with Venezuelan Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz for the goalkeeper’s spot. Brown has been with the club since 2009 and was the hero in the penalty shootout against Luton Town in the Blue Square Premier play-off Final, whereas 28 year-old Jaimez-Ruiz has previously had spells at Aldershot Town.
At the back, Ardley will look at the experienced duo of left back, Warren Cummings, and former Cheltenham Town captain Alan Bennett to be calming influences in the defence.
In midfield are youngster, Harry Pell and 25 year-old ex-Ipswich Town trainee Sammy Moore. Former Cardiff City midfielder Kevin Sainte-Luce will be available to play on the wing. Sainte-Luce was born in Guadeloupe and will look to build on his 14 appearances for the club since signing in January 2013.
Up front will see the potent attacking threat of former Blues player Jack Midson. The 29 year-old has been around the top of the goalscoring charts for the Wombles over the past two seasons and will look to have another good campaign this time around. Alongside Midson will be Luke Moore. Moore was awarded the Players’ Player of the Year award for the Dons last season and will want to improve on his four goals he scored last season.
Much travelled Peter Sweeney will look to show his quality after spells at the likes of Millwall, Stoke City and Leeds United. The Glaswegian will look to replicate the form that saw him play a key part in Bury’s promotion from League 2 in 2011.
The Dons were one of a number of teams that were involved in a frantic last day in League 2. Ardley will be looking to improve on the home form after last season’s dismal record. The Dons won the least amount of games at home in the whole of League 2 with only six wins throughout.
Ardley has moved swiftly to clear out his squad with the likes of Huw Johnson, Mat Mitchel-King, Chris Hussey, Stacy Long, Curtis Osano, Pim Balkestein, Rachid Yussuf and Jason Prior. Wombles offered John Sullivan a contract but he decided to move to Portsmouth on a free transfer after departing Charlton Athletic.
Incoming have been Chris Arthur, who was playing for Blue Square South side Havant & Waterlooville, and Barry Fuller, who was part of the successful Gillingham side that won promotion from League 2 through the play-offs in 2009/2010. Last season, Fuller played for Barnet.
BLUES vs. AFC WIMBLEDON 2012/13:
We played three times last season, winning twice and suffering one defeat.
Home (JPT): Blues 2-1 AFC Wimbledon
The first match between us was in the first round of the JPT. Ryan Cresswell’s late header winning the match for Blues after Gavin Tomlin had cancelled out a Frankie Merrifield opener.
BLUES: Smith, Clohessy, Straker (Benyon, 70), Cresswell, Phillips, Prosser, Leonard, Timlin, Spicer, Assombalonga (Harris, 70), Tomlin (Barker, 79)
Away: AFC Wimbledon 0-4 Blues
We traveled to Kingston in November and won 4-0. A Tomlin brace and a goal each from Cresswell and Barry Corr sealed the points.
BLUES: Smith, Clohessy, Cresswell, Phillips, Barker (Prosser, 73), Mkandawire, Timlin, Hurst, Laird, Assombalonga (Corr, 70), Tomlin
Home: Blues 1-3 AFC Wimbledon
The Wombles came to Roots Hall in March and won 3-1. Sean Clohessy gave Blues the lead from the penalty spot before Pim Balkestein, Jack Midson and Luke Moore won the game for Ardley’s side.
BLUES: Smith, Clohessy, Straker (Spicer, 71), Spillane (Corr, 64), Cresswell, Prosser, Leonard (Harris, 46), Mohsni, Lund, Hurst, Assombalonga
AFC Wimbledon are 14/1 to win promotion this coming season.