The Thursday Preview: Burton Albion Vs AFC Wimbledon
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.