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NEW SEASON, NEW TEAM | AFC Wimbledon

8 June 2016

We take a look at our new opponents for 2016/17

AFC Wimbledon:

Who are this lot then?

There are not many more intriguing and inspiring stories than the rise of AFC Wimbledon.

A decision to form a football club was made amongst the outrage from the decision to move Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes in 2002.

Fuelled by the determination to not let Wimbledon FC’s proud history die, AFC Wimbledon began at the basement of English football in the Combined Counties League in 2002/03.

Backed by crowds of over 2,000, the new Dons finished third at the end of their first campaign. Their first taste of success came about in the following season as AFC Wimbledon secured a league and cup double in 2004.

The next season they won the Ryman League First Division South before taking three years to escape the Ryman League Premier Division.
 
The National League South title was achieved in 2008 with the Dons just one hurdle away from a return to league football.

It took until 2011, but a nervy penalty shootout against Luton Town in the Play-Off Final in 2011 saw AFC Wimbledon fire themselves back to the big time.

As the crazy gang taught us, this team loves to play David in a Goliath world and sure enough they defeated the odds yet again, by securing another slice of Play-Off glory in the League Two final, beating Plymouth Argyle 2-0 to secure promotion to the third tier.

This will be the first season AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons will be in the same division – The dream continues.

Who did they get on last season?

The Dons comfortably secured the final play-off spot in League Two by six points with a total of 76 points.

Defeating the best of the rest, Accrington Stanley over two legs in the play-off semi-final set up a date with destiny against Plymouth Argyle on Wembley Way.

Lyle Taylor proved to be the firepower of Wimbledon’s promotion push, registering over 23 goals in 2015/16 – The last of which the most crucial as he gave his side the lead at Wembley against Plymouth Argyle.

A late penalty from target man, Adebayo Akinfenwa sealed a 2-0 win and the club’s place in the third-tier for the 2016/17 campaign.

Who’s the Boss?

A Former Dons Player for over ten years, Neal Ardley was confirmed as the manager of AFC Wimbledon in October 2012. Amongst a relegation dogfight, Ardley masterminded the Dons great escape on the final day of the 2012/13 season with a victory to ensure their Football League status.

In his first full season in charge, the Club finished 20th in Sky Bet League Two before securing a 15th place finish in 2014/15.

This is Ardley’s first senior team managerial role having previously worked in an academy coaching position at Cardiff City.

What happened last time?

Southend were unable to find a late winner as they played out a 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon on a Tuesday evening at Kingsmeadow in early March 2015.

Despite a late spell of pressure, Blues were unable to find that all important goal - taking one point from the trip as the promotion race was gathering pace.

What’s the ground like?

The Cherry Red Records Stadium is the home of AFC Wimbledon housing just over 5,000 spectators with over 2,000 seats in the Paul Strank Stand and the John Green Stand and terracing elsewhere.

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