The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 17 August 2019, between Accrington Stanley F.C. and the AFC Wimbledon will take place at Kingsmeadow in London, England. It is the first match League match for Stanley since and opening week loss to Lincoln City F.C.. This is due to the postponement of last week's scheduled match against Bury F.C.. (This of course because of the financial issues that have thus far forced the cancellation of Bury's first 4 matches). Wimbledon, a club that defied what looked like almost certain relegation last season, are off to a rough start again this year. Last week, they fell by a score of 2-1 at Fleetwood Town F.C., dropping them to 0-2 on the season.
Wimbledon are in their 4th season in this tier, and with finishes of 15th place in 2017, 18th place in 2018, and 20th place in 2019, they have regressed each year. This season it seems certain that Bury and Bolton Wanderers F.C. will be 2 of the 4 teams relegated, given their -12 deductions to start the year. However, Wimbledon is certainly a team that could be in danger of being one of the other two. It took an unbeaten run over their last 7 games last season (2 wins, 5 draws) just to have them even with Plymouth Argyle F.C. (50 points) on the last day of the season. They stayed up by virtue of a -24 to -27 advantage on goal difference over Plymouth. Ironically, it was Stanley lending a hand in keeping The Wombles in the division when the beat Plymouth 5-1 on 27 April 2019, and thus swinging the goal difference battle toward Wimbeldon.
After finishing 14th in the table in their first ever go-round in the third tier, are looking to make improvements on the finish. They have done a complete overhaul over their roster this offseason, bringing in 12 new players. They opened with a tough road match at Lincoln City F.C., and came away from that with a 2-0 loss. It seems as if early on, scoring could be a struggle for a club that is working in a number of talented, but you and inexperienced players in up front. Sean McConville is the mainstay on the wing, but surrounding him are mostly 22 and 23-year-old players in their first year with the club. While everything points to Accy continuing to be a club moving in the right direction, at the end of the day, any finish that finds John Coleman's side in the top 20 at seasons end will be a success.
AFC Wimbledon vs Accrington Stanley Vital Information
This match can be viewed on iFollow (which must be purchased from the Wimbledon website) in the United States (Note: Accrington Stanley will have international iFollow access within the next few weeks), and on iFollow in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have John Busby as the referee, with assistants Stephen Brown and Nicholas Cooper, and the fourth official Daniel Cook.
This will be the 15th meeting all time between AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley F.C. In the previous 14 meetings, Accrington has won 7, Wimbledon have won 3, and there have been 4 draws. It was a draw in the most recent of those, it was a 1-1 draw at Kingsmeadow, back on 6 April 2019. In the other match between the two clubs last season, Stanley earned a 2-1 result at the WHAM Stadium. Prior to last year, the most recent time these clubs had mad was in May 2016, in the EFL League Two playoffs. Wimbledon advanced from that two-legged tie, on their way to earning promotion to League One.
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Joe Pigott, lead Wimbledon with 15 goals last year including 2 goals in win against Wycombe in the second to last game of the season to help them stay up. There were rumors of him heading to Reading F.C. during the offseason, but as things stand, he is still with The Dons, and their number one scoring threat. He has already put the onion in the bag once this season in the opener against Rotherham United. The other starter alongside Pigott will likely be Ghanaian Kwesi Appiah. In the first game of the year Michael Folivi started up front, and Appiah subbed on for him in the 86th minute. In the most recent match Appiah started, played the full 90, and scored their only goal. Last season he scored 4 goals while splitting time with James Hanson, who added 5 goals. With Hanson moved on to Grimsby Town F.C., and Folivi just 21 and inexperienced, it could be shot that the 29-year-old Appiah has had to be a full-time starter in his career.
All the rage in Accrington this week has been of young strikers. We have already talked about Colby Bishop, who scored his first competitive goal for the club in Tuesday's EFL League Cup match against Sunderland A.F.C.. He also showed his inexperience when in the first half he failed to convert on what should have been an easy tap in. That chance was set up by fellow newcomer Courtney Baker-Richardson. CBR was making his debut with the club, having just come over on loan from Swansea City F.C. this past Friday. He showed an ability to score last season, finding the back of the net 3 times in just 6 starts for the Welsh EFL Championship side. The third newcomer just became official on Monday, 12 August 2019, when Dion Charles signed with the club. Although also just 23-years-old, Charles has quite a bit of game experience already, although most of his success has come in the 5th division while playing with A.F.C. Fylde, and most recently Southport F.C.. I wouldn't be surprised to see Charles given a run in the starting lineup on Saturday considering how quickly CBR was thrown into the lineup.
As unsettled as things are up front for Stanley, they are just as unsettled defensively for Wimbledon. Most notably, last year's starting goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is now starting for A.F.C. Bournemouth in Premier league. Nik Tzanev, a 22-year-old New Zealander has started the first two matches, but struggled, allowing 4 goals on 10 shots. It is reported that goalkeeper Nathan Trott is back from a groin injury, and the keeper, who is on a season long loan from West Ham United F.C. could get a turn in net. Further on the injury front for The Wombles is a guy who is both their skipper, and best player in the backfield. Center-back Will Nightengale is "Mr. Wimbledon", having been with the club since he was 8-years-old. This is his 6th year with the senior team, and it is reported he turned down bigger paychecks in the offseason to stay with his childhood club. Right now he is battling a minor knee injury, and although reports are that he has returned to training, it has been said that he will not play on Saturday.
For Stanley, the backend of things has been a point of cohesion. Goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov, has been with the club since last January, has was given the full time job by Coleman coming into the season. He is an extremely talented player, but also makes some unforced errors that prevent him from being a truly elite keeper. In front of him should be mostly familiar faces. In the opener Callum Johnson, Ross Sykes, and Mark Hughes, who have all been with the club at least 3 seasons started in the back, with Joe Maguire the only newcomer. The 32-year-old Hughes is the veteran of the group, with the other 3 all 23-years-old, or younger. Another veteran, Phil Edwards, now 33-years-old returns home to the club where his pro career began all the way back in 2006 (also Stanley's first season as in League Two). Since leaving the club 8-years-ago, Edwards has had stops with 5 different League One and League Two sides. He didn't feature in the opening match, but will provide a veteran presence in the backfield this season.
This is a match where at least one of these two clubs will be walking out with their first point or points this season. These are certainly two of the lower budget clubs at this tier, and ultimately the priority for each this season remains survival, more so than promotion. This is also a match that both sides probably circled on the schedule at the beginning of the season, as one that they need to come away with points from. The odds makers are giving the home side a slight edge, as the current line is +130 for Wimbledon and +200 for Accrington. That tells me the pros think the two sides are fairly even, with the home pitch accounting for the difference in the line. This game is especially hard to predict, because I think it will come down to Accrington's front line against Wimbledon's back line. These are the areas where each respective team has the most question marks, and whichever of these two groups best answers the call is likely to be the deciding factor.
AFC Wimbledon vs Accrington Stanley Prediction
Last season, in two matches against Stanley, Wimbledon scored just 2 goals. However, Piggott scored one of those, and assisted on the other. Players tend to find success against the same defenses time and again, so I fully expect Piggott to have goal involvement on Saturday. For Stanley, I think the key will maybe be to figure on Piggott getting his, but focusing on making sure nobody else does damage against them. Last season the Wombles scored a League low 42 goals, which is less than 1 per game, and they are rolling out most of the same guys up front. Piggott had nearly 36% of their goals last year, and seems capable, but behind him the cupboard is pretty bare. Their next best scorer from last season from last season was Hanson with 5, and he isn't even there anymore. All of this comes down to a club that is going to need to keep a clean sheet if they hope to get 3 points most nights. Last season that scored more than 1 goal in just 10 of 46 games. That can work when you have an elite for this division goalkeeper like Ramsdale, but if they can't find a suitable replacement, it will be a very, very long year.
In the first two matches, Tzanev hasn't looked liked the answer, so it appears that Wimbledon's season could ride on the shoulders of the 20-year-old Trott. That seems a stretch though, considering Trott has yet to make a senior appearance at any division. Last season, he played for West Ham United Under-23 and the numbers were not great. In 13 appearances, he allowed 29 goals, which is more than 2-per-game, and he recorded just 1 clean sheet. It's hard to say who will start up front for Accrington, except that I expect that Joe Pritchard will get the start at the number 10. Prichard started the opener for Accy, getting a couple shots on goal, and subbed on late in the League Cup game against Sunderland, playing actively and creating turnovers. Which two players start in front of him is something we will have 2 wait until an hour before game time to find out. However, I have feeling Baker-Richardson will be in the mix, so I am going to go out on a limb and say that Pritchard and CBR each register their first Stanley goal, and Piggott's 2nd half penalty kick isn't enough for the home side.
Prediction: Accrington - 2 A.F.C. Wimbledon - 1