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In Focus: AFC Wimbledon

4 June 2019

Name: AFC Wimbledon

Founded 2002

Ground: Kingsmeadow

Capacity: 4,850

Manager: Wally Downes

Last season: 20th in Sky Bet League One

Having lost just one game from their final 12 outings, AFC Wimbledon will play in Sky Bet League One next season for a fourth consecutive season.

The Kingston-upon-Thames outfit endured a difficult opening to the campaign which the departure of boss Neal Ardley after six-years with the club.

However, the appointment of former player Wally Downes as their new manager back in December paved the way for an upturn in fortunes which took off towards the end of the campaign.

Taking over a side who were six points adrift of safety in the third-tier standings, an FA Cup run, where they shocked Premier League West Ham 4-2 at Kingsmeadow in the competition’s fourth-round, saw the Dons hit the national headlines.

Remaining nine-points from safety and 20th position, Downes men then picked up a total of 21 points from their last 12 fixtures to secure their safety in the division for another term.

Victories over Doncaster Rovers, Peterborough United, Southend United, Scunthorpe United and Wycombe Wanderers were the foundation for their survival while they also earned draws against Shrewsbury Town, Accrington Stanley, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers, and champions Luton Town.

Final day safety was confirmed with a goalless draw away at relegated Bradford City as Downes achieved his aim upon his return to the Dons.

As a player, Downes was a key member of the Crazy Gang who rose from the Fourth Division to the First Division in a decade, making over 200 appearances at Plough Lane from 1979-1988 after coming through as a youth apprentice at the club.

The Londoner retired from the game to take up a coaching role at Crystal Palace before moving across the capital to spend two-years in his first management role with Brentford between 2002-2004.

After departing Griffin Park, Downes would be reunited with Steve Coppell at Reading, who he had worked under at Crystal Palace. Whilst at the Berkshire club, they gained promotion to the Premier League as champions in 2006 with 106 points.

Downes then later held positions within the backroom staff at Southampton under Alan Pardew before in November 2010, returning to his native London to take up a position at West Ham United, a position he held until 2012.

The 57-year-old then moved to India in October 2017 to coach the likes of Jamshedpur, Kerala Blasters and ATK before becoming AFC Wimbledon manager last December.

Rovers have only ever played Wimbledon twice with both ending in draws in the 2014/15 season.

You can still sign up to watch League One football at Prenton Park next season! CLICK HERE to get your season ticket.


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