Match Preview: AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic “Cup Final”

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Earlier in the week Andrew Crofts had an interview with the local press, and stated that since their win against Bolton, where an impressive and valiant effort with 10 men lead to a 2-1 win, Charlton have decided they would approach all remaining games, beginning with Fleetwood Town last Saturday as “Cup Finals”.

It is a “cliche” and most likely gets chucked around a bit too often, especially by teams with a chance for play-offs as long as they put together a strong run of form. However the statement by Crofts holds weight and truth, it is imperative for Karl Robinson’s side to treat each and every game like their promotion campaign depends on it, because it honestly does.

The Addicks currently sit 6 points from the final play-off position, with at least one game in-hand, and in some cases two against the teams above them.

The final 10 minutes of the game at The Valley last Saturday, where Charlton took on the Cod Army for the second time in their history, saw the final 10 minutes make the Mount Everest climb for the play-offs even more difficult. Not only did we drop an unnecessary two points by inviting too much pressure against a side which have performed well all season, but also the the confidence boost that the squad would have received from the Macron most definitely dented.

It is pivotal that Karl Robinson continues to emit his high-energy, spirit and confidence on the squad, and ensure that the club see the draw on Saturday as an extension of their unbeaten run to six.

This Saturday, the Red Army travel to Kingsmeadow to take on the newly promoted AFC Wimbledon.

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On the 17th of September, Charlton welcomed Wimbledon to The Valley for the first time, in a long time. On that day current Coventry City manager, Russell Slade, was in charge at Charlton. The fixture saw Charlton take the lead, before Wimbledon pegged back two goals late in the second half, which saw the home fans infuriated to simply chuck three points away as Slade and the squad showed no intent to win and sat far too deep, the away fans bellowing support for their beloved Blue and Yellow army!

Earlier in the season it was clear that the true Dons had a positive momentum behind them, and the “feel-good” factor they felt from their Wembley victory last season clearly propelled them to the level required to challenge Sky Bet League One. Less than two months ago, on December the 17th, AFC Wimbledon were sitting just three points outside the top six.

However it seems that after a rocky festive period and new years, the Dons have seen themselves slip down to 15th in the league, and any hope of a second successive promotion swiftly declining as they currently sit 8 points from the top six.

Last week saw Wimbledon face an undignified defeat up in Sheffield against the Blades, where Chris Wilder’s team ran out a 4-0 defeat against the revived club. It could be said that the Addicks are playing them at the most perfect time as the Dons are facing a decline in form and will definitely be mentally and emotionally hindered by the Blades defeat, Wimbledon have only been able to secure two victories in ten league games. Not only that, but it could also be said that Charlton are on somewhat of a run, being unbeaten in six (three draws, three wins).

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It is suspected that Sean Kelly will retain his position in the back-line, specifically in left-back as Jon Meades will still be unavailable as he has been for the past month due to an ankle injury. The Dons announced today that Dean Parrett has returned to training and will assess whether or not he will be suitable for Saturday, Will Nightingale has also returned to training but will not be featuring in this weekend’s fixture as Neil Ardley would like him to run out with the U21 side before playing any first team fixtures.

The 14th of January saw fan favourite Josh Magennis or Super Josh Magennis as many refer to him as, pick up a serious ankle injury in the first fifteen minutes of the feisty South London derby with Millwall. Earlier this week, Karl Robinson confirmed that the Northern Irish big man would be back to terrify the Wimbledon back-line, which has been dearly missed. Tony Watt tried to fill in, however the Scotsmen is more suited to a position sitting behind Josh.

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The return of Magennis will most likely see Tony Watt drop to the bench, but Robinson does have the option of sitting Watt behind Magennis instead in somewhat of a Shadow Striker role, and instead drop Aribo to the bench who is still a young talent, and it is important Aribo does not become burned out with the challenges of League One.

Lewis Page will still be missing as he still has a remaining two games left of his three match ban after the red card he picked up at the Macron. Last week Nathan Byrne received a straight red in the closing stages of the game against Fleetwood Town which saw the new loanee winger sent off. Byrne will face a two game ban and will be unavailable.

Jordan Botaka has returned from the African Cup of Nations and is the most suitable option to replace Nathan Byrne. Adam Chicksen had to be substituted off last week due to illness, but hopefully is fighting fit once more as he needs to play in left back once again in order to deal with the Lewis Page absence.

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Jason Pearce and Ahmed Kashi will remain unavailable, but Saturday could see Fredrik Ulvestad make a return to feature on the bench.

I truly believe that the Addicks will run rampant at Kingsmeadow as the Dons are hindered with low morale, terrible form and will still be hanging their heads low from their Bramall Lane defeat. Charlton on the other hand, a team unbeaten in six and who truly believe they are not out of the promotion race yet, 18 cup finals to go, and this will be the first of a string of victories to come!

Prediction: AFC Wimbledon 0 – 3 Charlton Athletic

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