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Five Things We Learned From AFC Wimbledon v Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers v Eastleigh - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Turns Out We Can Win Away

As has been explained by Tom in his excellent match report, now the streak is over we may see a more confident Wanderers line ups on the road. Home sides won’t be automatically favourite again (as they were throughout the majority of last season) and the players in our squad that feed off confidence, the likes of Madine and Davies, will be lifted. Also goes some way to eroding the losing mentality many players in the team have clearly developed after being played off the park for two seasons straight. AFC Wimbledon aren’t one of the best teams in the league but it doesn’t matter, three points look the same on the table whether we’d beaten a team placed 24th or 1st.

We Aren’t Going To Be Popular

And that doesn’t bother me at all. After going a goal down, we stuck to the same plan of knocking it up the pitch and hoping for the best. It was, until we scored, pretty painful to watch. If you hit the oak tree thousand times in a thousand different spots, nothing is going to happen. But, if you hit an oak three a thousand times in the same spot, you’re going to bring it down. The same goes for Robinson and Charles, who handled almost all of what we had to offer but eventually Wanderers broke them down. This is something we’ll be doing a lot of this season, it feels, and our opponents won’t enjoy watching it, especially if we take points off them.

Game management is a thing now, which is great news with our track record of letting in last minute goals to throw away matches. I don’t think I’ve ever cheered a player holding up the ball at the corner flag, another thing which pissed off the Wimbledon faithful.

Josh Vela is Not a Winger.

I don’t know whether this was something we learned or something everyone already knew, but maybe the gaffer needed to learn the harsh way some people learn not to eat yellow snow. The system worked but it wasn’t perfect, Vela was a square being forced into a round hole. I’d usually say that he deserves to be played in a holding role in front of the back four but Spearing was so fantastic on Saturday I’d rather see Vela benched in favour of a winger. A fit Max Clayton, perhaps?

GET HUGE STAY HUGE

Bolton have never been famous for tikka takka beautiful and swift football, I’ll admit, but I’m not sure whether it’s the new manager or new confidence that gave our player’s a drive to get to the ball and wrestle players off it. At times, Spearing was beating players twice his size to headers and in tackles, plus Mark Beevers and David Wheater put in a performance worthy of a centre back pairing that had been playing together for years. Even Gary Madine put in a shift.

It was most clear with Zach Clough, whose weakness has been his physical lack of presence. He, too, was in amongst it with the Dons’ defenders and was still able to use his skilful trickery to beat players.

AFC Wimbledon are a Bunch of Heroes.

What a club. A sobering reminder of the ugly consequences of modern football. Their attendance from away fans, I imagine, will be high all season as people tick Kingsmeadow of their list of grounds but I think it’s an important away day to go on.

A football pilgrimage? Why not.

AFC Wimbledon were born as the result of money shouting loudest. Since MK’s inception, there have been no new rules regarding franchising of clubs and nothing to prevent the exact same thing happening to any other club.

We were begging for someone with cash to take us over to ease our financial woes, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is so lucky. The Dons fought tooth and nail for their club to survive and, if our luck runs out, we may have to do the same.

Hard to complain about having no winger when playing a team who, for a scary time, had no home.