AFC Wimbledon meeting the opposition.
On Saturday afternoon, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere will look to return to winning ways after a run of six without one.
It will be a tough task as Wimbledon come into this game having not lost any of their last four as they progressed to the FA Cup second round with a replay win over Weymouth.
However, the last time the two sides met, in 2019, it was a struggling Rovers that came out on top at Prenton Park with a Rushain Hepburn-Murphy goal.
Ahead of the game, I spoke to Dons supporter Mark Sturges who gave me his thoughts on everything including Tranmere’s demotion in 2020.
Last season, Wimbledon were relegated to League Two after spending six years in League One. What are your thoughts when you look back on 2021-22 as a whole?
The campaign was what we expected it to be. All the funds had been invested in the new stadium and other projects away from the pitch including the COVID finances. We got what we deserved and I’m hoping that lessons were learned from it.
This summer, ten players were brought to the club either on loan or a permanent basis including Welsh international right-back Chris Gunter. What are your thoughts on the summer window and what positions would you like to see being strengthened in January?
I think good business was done in the summer and it took a little time for the management team to decide on the right playing style and formation. Our recent form shows we may have got this right, for now.
Dons manager Johnnie Jackson joined the club this year after spending time at Charlton Athletic. What are your thoughts on him and his playing style? What is his relationship with fans like?
JJ as he is affectionately known, comes with no previous Wimbledon connections which is perfect as we need to sever the chord of ‘I am a previous Wimbledon player/manager/kitman/tea lady’s brother/nephew/cousin/former roommate’. However, I don’t yet know his playing style.
The Dons Trust are the Owners of AFC Wimbledon. What are your thoughts on that as it’s something which is unique? Does it bring any challenges?
We are currently having elections for the next Dons Trust board members. It comes with challenges, some of the fan base would like to sell up and to have a ‘owner’ as being fan owned requires continuous investment and in this time of financial hardship, we don’t have deep pockets as fans.
23-year-old Josh Davison is top scorer, he’s netted six goals this season and has three assists. Who would you say are the other players to watch and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon?
At the time of writing, Ayoub Assal is now our top scorer! Harry Pell is at his second spell with the club and has added some steel as well as much needed experience. Combined with Alex Woodyard we finally have a strong midfield able to compete in League Two.
A player to have played for both clubs.. Alex Woodyard. The midfielder was at Tranmere as they were demoted to League Two at the end of the 2019-20 season. What are your thoughts on him?
As mentioned in the above answer, ‘Woody’ can sometimes be overlooked but our recent form has picked up since he’s become a regular starter. Is that a coincidence?
What would you say are the club’s targets for this season? Sights may be set on an immediate return to League One but The Dons are currently positioned 15th.
Stability. After watching us lose game after game last season, with no purpose or direction, it’s nice to see us win a game!
Score predictions for Saturday’s game? The last time the two sides met was in December 2019 as Rushain Hepburn-Murphy netted the winner for Rovers.
I think a draw or a low scoring win, probably in either direction!
Thoughts on Tranmere? They were on an unbeaten run of five but have failed to win any of their last six games. Where do you see them finishing in May?
I’m interested to see the interaction between the fans and the clubs. When Tranmere were relegated to League Two because of PPG, points per game, the finger was pointed solely at AFC Wimbledon, despite there being other clubs in the league! I’m sure even saying this will result in a few ‘choice’ words from your fans!
AFC Wimbledon fans at Wembley Stadium in 2016, Neal Ardley’s side beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 as Adebayo Akenfiwa scored a penalty in the 100th minute.