The Thursday Preview: Burton Albion Vs AFC Wimbledon

Posted by on Nov 24, 2011 in The Thursday Preview | No Comments
The Thursday Preview: Burton Albion Vs AFC Wimbledon
In his regular column for The Seventy Two, AFC Wimbledon striker Jack Midson tells us that the latest prank to achieve popularity among the players is to place items of fruit in each other’s kit bags. Given that in their heyday, the original club’s ‘Crazy Gang’ were prone to setting fire to Armani suits, smothering jock straps with Deep Heat and christening taxi doors with steel toe caps, this does seem a little mild. One can only imagine the scorn a Vinnie Jones or Wally Downes would show in the face of such timidity.Still, the bonds to the Plough lane mob are still unbreakable. In recent weeks, AFC fans have afforded a warm greeting to two of their favourite sons in Dario Gradi and Lawrie Sanchez and seen Carl Cort train with the club. Although the producers of excellent blog SW19’s Armyadmit to having suffered non-league flashbacks in recent weeks, complaining of ‘match tickets that look one step from something you buy at a tombola’ and admitting that the up in standard has provided some surprises, there is a feeling that everyone has now been pulled up on deck after a short history flailing in the murky shallows of the Combined Counties and elsewhere.It’s been a difficult few weeks for the Kingston based club. Manager Terry Brown suffered an enforced absence after his wife underwent a cancer operation and the less heralded Stuart Cass and Simon Bassey took charge of first team affairs. Results have not been good and the winless run stretched back for eight games before the unexpected 1-0 win over League 1 Scunthorpe United on Tuesday.

If losses to Torquay and Crawley, as well as a miserable home draw against Sanchez’s Barnet provided the low lights, there has been tentative improvement in recent weeks – a vessel-steadying 0-0 draw against a Shrewsbury side shortly to run riot at Northampton’s expense looks a good result in retrospect and the Dons managed two draws against ‘Swindon Town’s Paolo Di Canio’, even if the first of these saw them exit the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties.

From the off this season, the back four in particular has looked brittle and the clean sheets of the past fortnight or so will have been most welcome. The experienced Jamie Stuart has, by and large, provided solidity to a back line still learning its trade (‘a bunch of eunuchs’ as SW19’s Army have described them at one point) and West Ham loanee Callum McNaughton has shown promise but makes occasional mistakes.

Elsewhere, a right riveting 3-1 win over Gillingham – the club that pilfered last year’s main man Danny Kedwell – was heartening and the aforementioned Midson, boosted by an intake of protein shakes, has risen to the challenge well after his release by Oxford – he’s so far netted ten times. The club’s colossal youth does make them vulnerable at times but if Christian Jolley can recapture his form of the early part of the campaign, the Dons should get back on track. Thirteen points clear of the relegation placings, their current position may seem alarming after they stood in third at the start of the autumn, but it’s been a more than competent negotiation of the transition upwards.

But Saturday’s opponents Burton Albion lie in wait having produced a quietly splendid season so far. For sure, there have been inconsistencies and rarely have the Brewers launched into an unbeaten run – but the division is even and they can consider themselves as well placed as anyone as we approach yuletidery.

Clearly, it’s been in advanced areas that Albion have excelled – Justin Richards has matched Midson’s tally and Calvin Zola, having surprisingly moved on from Tranmere, has chipped in with 7 goals and a whole lot of silver service. Similarly, fellow Anglo-Congolese midfielder, Jacque Maghoma has been busily creative – he was important in the recent 3-2 win at Hereford that saw Paul Peschisolido’s men ‘come back from the dead’ to score twice in an eight minute injury time, prevailing 3 to 2.

The winner at Edgar Street was scored by Billy Kee – a £20,000 steal from Torquay and himself the notcher of 9 goals, a hat-trick at Underhill amnong them. Kee, who models himself on Dean Windass of all people, admits to watching The Football League Show at least eight times every time he scores, so did this mean he put himself through the torture of a 24-time revisit to the iPlayer? Hopefully he fast forwards through the Steve Claridge analysis sections – despite league positions, I’ll take the south Londoners to edge this 2-1.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

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