Sunderland will be looking to extend their unbeaten start to their League One campaign as they face AFC Wimbledon at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. The lads are currently sit 6th in the table, whilst the Dons are living anxiously in 20th having failed to win any of their first four games.
Last season Sunderland beat Wimbledon on league meetings, including a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light with Irish winger Aiden McGeady securing all 3 points. The Dons stayed up on goal difference last year, following an excellent run of form under current boss Wally Downes.
Ahead of the match, I spoke to Wimbledon fan Chris Draper from the 9yrspodcast to discuss how his club have fared so far this season and what we can expect during the game.
MC: Wimbledon currently sit 20th in League One having lost 3/4, why have you had such a bad start to the season?
CD: A mixture of having no “Plan B” and also coming up against three promotion contenders in Rotherham, Fleetwood & Ipswich. Irritatingly, we were ahead in two of those as well. Need to learn how to see games out..
MC: Your manager Wally Downes is no stranger to controversy. After managing to keep the Dons up he has struggled so far this season - do you think he is the right man to take the club forward?
CD: I *think* so. He’s been a bit hamstrung with finances again this season (a fair few quid was spent avoiding relegation last season, so we’re still balancing books), so he’ll need the new recruits he does get to hit the ground running.
MC: It is fair to say Wimbledon have had a quiet transfer window so far - are you satisfied that the business you have done is enough?
CD: We’ve had a few non-leaguers join, along with Reilly and O’Neill from fellow League One teams, and Trott on loan from the Hammers seems to be doing well. We are missing a number nine, and that has been telling early doors.
MC: Are the club aspiring to have a go at the playoffs this season or is the goal simply just to survive in League One?
CD: Survival, for us, is always the true aim, especially with the new ground on the horizon. Slow and steady wins the race...
MC: Joe Pigott scored 13 goals in all competitions last year including a goal against Sunderland, were you surprised to see him stay at Wimbledon?
CD: Not really, he’s a nice enough lad and certainly came up with the goals, however he’s started to look a bit one-dimensional, and possibly believes in his own hype a bit - certainly for my liking anyway.
MC: Do Wimbledon have a preferred style of play under Downes which Sunderland can expect?
CD: We seem to be sat 3-5-2 at the moment, but then resort to classic long ball tactics when things don’t go our way. When we’re playing Folivi and Appiah up front (both under 5’8”), that doesn’t work too well..
MC: Which three players would you say are capable of preventing Sunderland from taking three points?
CD: Trott, Nightingale (if he plays) and Guinness-Walker - especially if he plays a bit further forward again.
MC: A trip to the Stadium of Light will be Wimbledon’s furthest away trip of the season, how many fans are you predicting will take the trip?
CD: I think around 600 - we’ve got a hard core and it’s normally around a quarter of the home gate - hopefully a new ground will attract more to that!
MC: Sunderland beat Wimbledon on both occasions last season, including a 2-1 win at Kingsmeadow courtesy of a Lee Cattermole brace - what do you think the score will be on Saturday?
CD: My heart says draw, head says we’ll do our “rubbish dog-walker” act, go ahead in the break and then balls it up in the 94th minute.