The Imps travel to Wimbledon tomorrow for only the second time in the modern era, having succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup back in 2017.
Their current home at Kingsmeadow is an authentic lower league experience, but the Wombles have made the best of the situation, despite struggling over the last eighteen months. They’re not always easy on the eye and have suffered more defeats than wins, but they’re always committed and have a front two that could grace the top six, not the bottom three.
We’re going to look at three key players for them, in the absence of too much transfer business between the two, but first let’s look at their teamsheet from the last fixture, a 1-0 defeat against Burton Albion.
Playing in a 3-5-2, as I explain on the podcast this week, makes it difficult for us to get into the pockets of space we like to exploit. Osew and Wagstaff will be expected to track back giving us a two on two situations whenever we look to get down the wings; this won’t be a game for Bruno or Jorge Grant to find time to cross the ball, which could well work against us.
Even when our full backs push on to even up the numbers, the issues we’ll have will be finding the channels; they’ll crowd us out. Wimbledon’s xG in recent games has not been great, but they did impress against Southend and Leyton Orient. It suggests to me that the tight, defensive tactics they play are not out of need, but choice. They choose to stifle the game, they choose to be hard to break down but when a team comes to visit who they feel they can beat, they’ll turn on the style.
Yes, they’re struggling in the league but they’ve had upheaval just as we have had. Wally Downes has gone after having a bet or two that he shouldn’t, meaning tomorrow is the first match Glynn Hodges will take as full tie manager. With the new manager bounce, as well as their tough, no-nonsense approach to not losing, we’re in for a real test.
They’re not a team of big names and few will jump out from their teamsheet to those not familiar with football at this level, but we’re going to take a closer look at the three players we think will be a thorn in our side tomorrow afternoon.