As I write this piece, AFC Wimbledon sit at the foot of League One and it would be fair to say that the season has not gone according to plan. But there is still hope, with almost 20 matches still to play. Four points adrift of the triumvirate of Plymouth Argyle, Bradford City and Oxford United, it does feel like a long road back to safety.
Enough of that for now, let’s look back at how the season has unfolded. How did we get to this point?
Back in August, the season started so well. An opening day 1-0 win at Fleetwood marked the perfect start to the season, while a home draw against a Coventry City side that many expected to challenge for promotion, represented a decent point. An impressive Carabao Cup success at Portsmouth meant that Wimbledon had started the season in impressive form.
An away draw at Barnsley in mid-August represented a useful point and there were few hints of what was to come. But consecutive home league defeats by Walsall and Sunderland were followed by a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of West Ham, leaving the side looking to bounce back at Burton Albion on the opening day of September. A 3-0 hiding there did little for morale.
There were wins against both Gillingham and Oxford United in the following weeks, but October was truly horrible: consecutive league defeats at the hands of Bradford City, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth, Blackpool and Bristol Rovers left the side in deep trouble. Indeed, the losses to fellow strugglers within that run was particularly unfortunate.
Hopes of an upturn in form in November were crushed with a 2-1 home defeat against Shrewsbury kicking things off. Despite two cup victories, a 2-1 loss at Doncaster Rovers confirmed that the team’s league position was precarious.
The visit of Southend United also started poorly, with an own goal from Nightingale gifting the visitors an early advantage. But there were, at least, signs of real grit. Oshilaja equalised on the stroke of half time and Mitch Pinnock sealed a rare win. The Dons were back up and running.
A narrow defeat at Peterborough followed, but the team were to find some respite in the FA Cup, running out 3-1 winners at FC Halifax.