Tuesday marks just the second meeting between AFC Wimbledon and the Bees, so Dan Long chatted to GetSurrey’s Kaylee Seckington to get the lowdown on Neal Ardley’s Dons…
It’s AFC Wimbledon’s second season in League One – how is Neal Ardley preparing to avoid the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’?
I think that everyone at Wimbledon is very aware that they are not the biggest club in the division and they don’t have the biggest budget. Most of the chats I have with Neal return to his budget concerns, but at the same time they are realistic about their situation and he’s made some really good signings over the summer. They’ve lost some key player but you could argue that the signings he’s made are stronger players than the players who have left. All in all, everything’s quite positive ahead of the new season, especially with the talk about the possibility of moving back to Plough Lane.
You mentioned the summer signings there, who would you say has the most potential to succeed as a Don?
You’d hope that they key signing of all the summer additions is Kwesi Appiah who signed from Crystal Palace last month. If they can get him fit and injury-free – which proved a problem during his time at Palace – then he could be one of the division’s top goalscorers. In the pre-season game at Aldershot he looked class, he’s just a little bit behind everyone else fitness-wise as he’d been on loan at Viking in Norway, so finished his season later than most. Keep him fit and he should be the one to watch.
What are the aims for the club in this campaign?
A lot of clubs at this time of year say that they are going for the playoffs or promotion, but I’d say that even Neal Ardley is realistic in that either of those would be a long shot for Wimbledon. At the same time, I don’t think anyone is particularly worried about relegation – survival will always be the first target for most mid-table sides. I think this season for Wimbledon will be about establishing themselves as a League One side further to what they achieved last season. Another season like last season – possibly not with the end to the season that the Dons had – will go a long way towards them establishing themselves further.
Former Brentford academy graduate Jake Reeves left the club to join fellow League One side Bradford this summer – will he be much of a loss to the squad?
Jake is a midfield dynamo and was obviously a very important part of the squad. The worst part probably wasn’t even letting go of Jake; Wimbledon released Dannie Bulman at the end of last season and I would have been interested to know that, if they knew they were going to lose Jake, that they would have made the same decision. However, they’ve made a couple of great signings in former Millwall midfielder Jimmy Abdou and Lions loanee Liam Trotter. They are essentially a ready-made partnership as they know each other so well and should do a great job of replacing Jake. The fans were obviously disappointed to lose Jake, especially to a League One rival.
This will be just the second meeting between the two clubs since Wimbledon were formed, but what is your general impression of Brentford?
I’ve seen Brentford quite a number of times when I was covering Crawley so it’s plain to see that they are a very well-organised club and very well-established at Championship level. Tuesday will certainly be a challenge, but Brentford should bring a vocal crowd and it will be interesting to see how Wimbledon fare.
What do you think the score will be on Tuesday evening?
I don’t think I can get away with predicting Wimbledon after the end of the season and I think I need to endear myself to the fans! Let’s go with a narrow 1-0 for the Dons.