AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers: ‘No one expected this tough start’ – the opposition view

It has been an interesting start to the season to say the least for AFC Wimbledon.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 10:43 pm
Glyn Hodges
Glyn Hodges

A long winless start came alongside a suspension for manager Wally Downes due to an FA charge for gambling on matches which ultimately led to his sacking. Now Glyn Hodges is at the helm and results have picked up.

We spoke to the South London Press' sports editor Richard Cawley to get the lowdown on the Dons.

Q: Escaping relegation last time out, Wally Downes' suspension and Glyn Hodges' appointment - how do you assess the start to the campaign and how does it stack up to pre-season expectations?

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RC: "I think after what was termed 'the great escape' last season there was hope it would be a little bit more straight forward this time around and they wouldn't be battling against relegation.

"It's still quite early to say if that will be the case this time around.

"In terms of the start, the fact was Wally Downes was suspended and they then parted company with him, and until that happened they hadn't managed to win a game, that was a surprise. No one was expecting that.

"But under Glyn Hodges they've put some results together.

"People would have hoped for a bit more than what they've had so far.

"But for Wimbledon at this level and before they've gone into the new stadium, the resources available to them are limited. The goal has been to be a League One club when they do eventually move into Plough Lane.

"The start hasn't been as good as anticipated but it could have been a lot worse."

Q: What was the reaction to Downes' suspension and sacking?

RC: "I think there's been some disappointment that he ended up going. I think looking at the amount of games that he's bet on, some fans think they should have stuck by him.

"He was a Wimbledon favourite back in the original club. Coming back, after a difficult time under Neal Ardley at the end, he turned them around and gave them fresh impetus. There is a school of thought that the club should have stood by him and supported him in his FA charge.

"That came against a backdrop where Wimbledon hadn't won at that stage.

"Glyn Hodges was brought in by Downes as his assistant. He's someone else with history as a player for the club and that has helped.

"He's a capable pair of hands. He knows the squad inside out and I don't think a huge amount has changed in how they approach games.

"I don't think anyone would have anitcipated Downes leaving before the FA charge. Wimbledon have given managers times - arguably they gave Ardley too much."

Q: Was the reaction to Hodges' appointment positive then?

RC: "It was definitely positive. If it wasn't going to be Wally, Hodges had done well and were able to string together some good results.

"They were comfortable winners at Southend and followed that up with a win over Portsmouth. They're spirited.

"If there are limitations to them, they don't really keep plugging away right to the end."

Q: Who are the danger men?

RC: "Marcus Forss has been the main man so far but he is unavailble at the weekend because of the terms of his loan from Brentford. Joe Pigott has looked good alongside him this season.

"He had a very good scoring streak last season and there will be more or a reliance on him with Forss unavailable."