The Shrimps host AFC Wimbledon at the Mazuma Stadium for another exciting Sky Bet League One fixture.
Stephen Robinson’s side head into the fixture fresh on the back of an international break which saw Alfie McCalmont Jökull Andrésson and Josh McPake called up for their respective national sides. In their last game before the break, the Shrimps overcame a strong Sheffield Wednesday outfit by a goal to nil at the Mazuma Stadium.
The Dons, managed by Mark Robinson, didn’t benefit from an international break and currently sit in 10th place in League One.
The two sides have faced off 10 times before, all meetings coming in League Two, and the Shrimps have just about edged the winning tally with four victories, three draws and three defeats, between October 2011 and March 2016.
Having been promoted in the League Two Play-Offs in 2015/16, AFC Wimbledon are into their sixth season in the Third Division, and their campaign has started pretty steadily.
The London-side kicked off the season with a 2-1 away win at Doncaster Rovers, before drawing 3-3 at home to Bolton Wanderers. Another draw at home to Gillingham was followed by defeat at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland before a 2-2 draw at Ipswich Town. Their last game saw the Dons pick up their second league win of the season at home to Oxford United by three goals to one.
Mark Robinson initially took over the head coach vacancy on an interim basis before being offered the full-time job in February 2021. The 56-year-old has gone on to take charge of 28 matches, winning 10, drawing 11 and losing seven, giving him an average of 1.46 points per match.
Mark Robinson’s pre-match thoughts
Dons’ head coach Mark Robinson admits the Shrimps have adapted to life in League One really well and expects a tough game when his side travel to the Mazuma Stadium on Saturday.
“They’re doing really, really well,” he said.
“They’ve done great, they’re really, really hard working but also do some things on the ball that can be a real threat.
“They’ve got some good players and they’ve got some good movement, particularly when they get into the final third, so we’ve got to be aware of that.
“Fundamentally they are really hard working, so we know we’ve got our work cut out, but another game we’re looking forward to.”
Dons’ key players
Last season’s young Player of the Year Ayoub Assal established himself as a first-team regular towards the latter stages of the 2020/21 campaign, making 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring five goals and providing four assists. As well as earning the EFL Young Player of the Month for April, Assal was also called up to the Morocco U20s national training camp at the start of the season.
Arriving on a season-long loan from Premier League side Watford, attacker Dapo Mebude was brought in to bolster the forward ranks over the summer. The promising youngster benefited from first team football at Scottish Championship side Queen of the South FC during a four-month loan spell last season, scoring two goals in 11 appearances. Mebude has also represented his native Scotland at youth-level, scoring one goal in six appearances for the U17s and four goals in 11 appearances for the U19s.
Another summer arrival from the Premier League in the Dons’ ranks is midfielder Luke McCormick who arrived from Chelsea on a permanent deal in the summer. The 22-year-old enjoyed a spell at Bristol Rovers in 2020/21, scoring six goals and providing two assists in 42 games for the Gas. The Bury St Edmunds-born man has started life well at Plough Lane, making seven appearances to date, netting once and assisting twice.
Shrimps’ pre-match thoughts
In their opening five league games of the season, Stephen Robinson’s side have faced several stern tests against the likes of Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, and the Shrimps boss is expecting another tough opposition in AFC Wimbledon.
“I’ve watched AFC Wimbledon numerous times now, they’re a good side,” he said.
“They’re very well coached, you can tell that, they change formations, they’ve got some very good individuals.
“I think they’re a similar team to ourselves, but these are the games that really matter.
“Your Sheffield Wednesday’s and Ipswich’s, they’re bonus results, these are the results that really count in the season at the end of it.”
Meet the men in black
Tyne-based Sebastian Stockbridge will take charge of Saturday’s clash, with Richard Woodward and Matthew Parry running the line and Billy Smallwood completing the line-up as fourth official.
The referee has taken charge of six games this season across a variety of competitions, including League’s One and Two, the EFL Cup and the Papa John’s Trophy. In those games, he has issued a total of 17 yellow cards and one red card.
Stockbridge refereed the Shrimps on two separate occasions last year, including our 2-1 home win over Leyton Orient as well as our enthralling 2-1 victory at home over Salford City which saw the reds come back from a goal down to win the tie in added time.
Don’t miss a kick with our iFollow coverage
After teaming up with Beyond Radio for the 2021/22 season, supporters will be able to listen to exclusive, full and uninterrupted radio commentary of every single game, home and away, which will be broadcast simultaneously across North Lancashire on 103.5 and 107.5FM, as well as on the iFollow Shrimps platform.
Joining host Dave Salmon is the club’s media assistant Matt Smith, audio passes are available from as little as £2.50 per match, £4.49 for a monthly pass or £45 for a season pass.
As well as full match commentary, the ‘Shrimps Verdict’ podcast will be available post-match, featuring online, on demand content, including audio match highlights, post-match interviews and reaction, and the chance for supporters to have their say.
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