ITEN Match Preview: Wimbledon (A)
For the third time in little over a month, Rovers face AFC Wimbledon this weekend looking to halt a dip in form and get back in touch with the upper reaches of the League One table.
Taylor & Ennis back, but will they start?
Relentless winger Jon Taylor was a big miss in last weekend’s 1-1 home draw with struggling Milton Keynes so the news that he has been given the all-clear to return after a thigh strain is welcome. It will be music to the ears of Darren Moore, who has faced a growing shortage of first team players of late, and the return of first-choice centre forward Niall Ennis is also a boost ahead of the weekend.
Whilst Taylor may well come straight back in for Alfie May, it is unlikely that Ennis will start at Kingsmeadow after a six week lay-off. Ennis played 45 minutes for the development squad in midweek, which is perhaps a sign that he won’t be ready for a full 90 minutes in the league just yet. Nevertheless, having him available from the bench helps the side and should set him up for a sustained run through the upcoming Christmas period.
Moore praised his forward line in the Doncaster Free Press this week but many fans are less than enthused by the present options, with both Kwame Thomas and Rakish Bingham failing to do much more than fill the position during Ennis’ absence. A tepid performance from the whole team last time out means changes are likely for this one, but a lack of viable alternatives may mean the likes of Bingham and Ben Sheaf keep their place for now.
Forss to be reckoned with
Although there is a familiar look to our opponents this weekend owing to the two FA Cup ties between the teams last month, the big difference for Wimbledon is the availability of their top scorer Marcus Forss. The young Finn is on loan from Brentford and so was not eligible to play in the cup games but will lead the line in this league clash and is surely the threat that Rovers have to deal with most.
Forss scored both Dons goals in a 2-2 draw with Bolton last weekend, bringing his tally for the campaign to 10. His partnership with Joe Pigott, who scored his side’s goal in the initial FA Cup fixture in November, is proving effective and minimises the impact of injuries to fellow forwards Kwesi Appiah and Michael Folivi. Midfielder Anthony Wordsworth also remains absent but Rod McDonald is in contention after returning on the bench last Saturday.
This one has been done to death already over the past few weeks so to put it simply, Rovers are unbeaten in two meetings with Wimbledon this season. The last meeting at Kingsmeadow ended in a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup 1st Round last month with Tom Anderson, suspended for the upcoming game, cancelling out Joe Pigott’s goal for the Wombles. Rovers ran out 2-0 winners in the replay thanks to strikes from James Coppinger and Rakish Bingham.
Anderson’s suspension means the task of shutting down Marcus Forss falls to Cameron John. The centre half notched his third goal of the season to earn a point against Milton Keynes on his return from a long injury lay-off, and he will need to be just as sharp at the other end of the field to keep the prolific Forss quiet. If Rovers can win that battle it should make the aim of winning the game a bit easier to achieve.