Conceding six goals is usually a pre-empt to recriminations and navel-gazing, but Tuesday night’s 6-3 reverse at a full strength Premier League Sunderland side will not, aside from a few of the goals being down to poor goalkeeping, have elicited such a response. However, with yet another away trip on Saturday, City’s fifth in six games, one could be forgiven for thinking there may be some weary legs on display. City were forced into several changes on Tuesday night, with Ribeiro, Harley and Nichols all missing out – the latter two are probably more likely to be fit for Wimbledon than Ribeiro, while Jordan Moore-Taylor is getting closer to fitness. Paul Tisdale may have some selection headaches particularly in midfield with Manny Oyeleke and Tom McCready both crowning fine displays with their first goal for the club at Sunderland.
It has been something of a stop-start season so far for AFC Wimbledon, a side tipped as dark horses to challenge. Neal Ardley has once again assembled a squad that looks strong on paper, with experience at the back added in the form of Karleigh Osborne while Ardley has signed midfielder Andy Barcham from Portsmouth and striker Tom Elliott from Cambridge amongst others. Unlike City Wimbledon have been able to enjoy a midweek break since their 1-1 draw at Carlisle last week, so Ardley will have the benefit of a fresher squad to choose from.
Last season the matches between City and Wimbledon went the way of the home sides – the corresponding fixture just after Christmas saw a somewhat lop-sided 4-1 result in a match that was perhaps more even albeit with the hosts, through Tubbs, Ribeiro (OG), Azeez and Akinfenwa, taking their chances while City finally scored a consolation through Liam Sercombe in added time. City got some revenge in March – “The Beast” Akinfenwa put Wimbledon ahead before City came back through a brace from Tom Nichols (one from the spot) and Wheeler before a late goal credited as a James Hamon OG made for a nervy finish. Overall City hold a slight league head-to-head lead with three wins to Wimbledon’s two (one draw).