AFC Wimbledon go into this Saturday’s home game with Shrewsbury Town still looking for their first win of the 2019/2020 campaign.
With just two points from their opening seven games it has hardly been the start that manager Wally Downes would’ve wanted. The 2-1 reverse this past weekend was the fourth time the Dons had been on the end of that score line, suggesting that they are running teams close and not getting the rub of the green.
Score lines can of course be quite deceiving. Each of the losses have seen Wimbledon blow hot and cold. However, when it’s been cold, it’s been freezing. The faithful fans that have travelled to four league games away from home have had their loyalty tested, and their nerves frayed.
The latest take of two halves saw arguably the worst first half by a Wimbledon team for quite some time, in fact it was so bereft of any substance you’d have thought that the players had never met each other before. Let alone call themselves a professional football team.
Of course, the timing of this woeful display didn’t help as it was against the very team that causes the most agony by the mere mention of their name – so in the interest of not causing any more pain I’ll refrain from doing so.
2-0 down at half time and staring another defeat in the face, the manager had to make changes to at least save face, both for himself and the team, and of course those that braved the upper tier of a stadium that was barely a quarter full.
Last season Downes steered the team from the drop in what will always be known as the “Great Escape” season. He did so with some inspirational loan signings in the January window. With this summer’s window closing he dived through it just in time to gain the services of three players that could well inspire.
The highly rated midfielder Max Sanders from Brighton and Hove Albion, the now 20-year-old was once in the AFC Wimbledon set up aged seven. Striker Marcus Forss had just put pen to paper with Brentford on a four-year deal, before arriving on a season long loan, and Ryan Delaney, the veteran of the trio at 22, comes in from Rochdale as much needed cover at centre back.
Delaney was the only one to start the match and saw way more of the action than he would’ve liked as Wimbledon were on their heels constantly. Sanders was introduced at half time and his influence was steady. Always looking to move forward through his play, and this sparked some good opportunities.
It was only after the far too late introduction of Forss that things got interesting. Brentford clearly rate the man from Finland, a natural goal scorer with a raw edge.
His goal on 82 minutes, after being on the field for barely moments was one that gave hope but with the mountain so steep it ultimately proved too little, too late. Deep into stoppage time Paul Kalamabyi had a chance to level things up but his header missed the target from a well-placed corner.
We shouldn’t be in a position where we once again rely on players that come on loan. After last season we had a sense of attachment to those that helped us scrap and see off relegation. We were never going to keep Aaron Ramsdale, now confidently plying his trade in the Premier League with Bournemouth, and indeed the England Under-21’s.
Steve Seddon, now back at Birmingham City, has clearly got a soft spot for the Dons as he has been to games this season to offer his support. Clearly, we have a new fan favourite in Forss, his impressive 15-minute debut should be enough to see him start this weekend, and in Sanders we have a player that will take a game to the opposition.
This can only inspire those around them and get that much needed first victory in the bag, then who knows what from there. Once again though we will be left with big holes to fill when these players are eventually recalled to their parent clubs.
With two games at home on the horizon they will have a great chance to shine. Two games that are winnable and must be approached that way. The three home outings this year have seen a late goal defeat us on opening day, followed by two draws that could easily have been wins with a bit more assertiveness. Could this Saturday be the start of an unbeaten run?