Wimbledon have so far endured a slow start to their League One campaign, with their performances so far having yielded just a single point to date.
Tactically, Dons manager Wally Downes has maintained his favoured 5-3-2 formation, however it has been found lacking so far this season due to the teams tendency to bypass the midfield and attempt long balls into the two forward players, a method which has so far proved to have been unsuccessful as it has negatively affected the team both from a defensive and attacking perspective in terms of chance creation and lack of possession, as this example from a recent game against Ipswich shows.
Wimbledon did well to get back on level terms against Sunderland, but unfortunately it counted for nothing. Here’s THREE things we learned from last weekend’s game…
An experienced head is needed in defence
Wimbledon played a back 3 of Paul Kalambayi, Terrell Thomas and Rod McDonald in the game against Sunderland, in what is a tried and trusted approach of Downes reign. What became obvious from the beginning of the game was that the Dons were significantly weaker at the back without the presence of captain Will Nightingale who usually takes up the central spot in the defensive 3.
Nightingale not only adds good ability on the ball when bringing the ball out into midfield, but also vital leadership qualities that helped to form what was a solid backline during last seasons miraculous escape from the relegation zone.
These qualities were found lacking in last Saturday’s game as Sunderland’s forward players dragged Wimbledon’s youthful backline out of position, by playing long direct balls into the channels behind the fullbacks for wingers McGeady and Gooch to latch onto.
This along with an injury to McDonald shows that without Nightingale on the field, there is a need for another more experienced head to steady the ship in defence and provide some much needed organisation to proceedings. With just days left of the transfer window, this may be an area that Downes will look to improve.
Long ball tactics not paying off
As previously mentioned in this article, Wimbledon have been guilty of launching too many aimless long balls forward this season, which have in the most part proved to affect the team negatively.
This could be put down to two factors: Wimbledon lack the creativity that influential midfielder Anthony Wordsworth provides when fit and secondly, they lack a striker that is able to win the ball in the air and bring others into play.
With the case of the Sunderland match, it was clear for most people to see that both Kwesi Appiah and Michael Folivi lacked the physical prowess to hold the ball up against the Black Cat’s towering back line.
The solution to this problem is simple, Joe Pigott has to start if this is to be Wimbledon’s tactical approach to games in the long-term, as he is the only player who can realistically fulfill this role.
Lack of organisation at set pieces
As has been a big issue for Wimbledon for most of the season so far, the team were severely disorganized for the corner which led to Sunderland’s second goal of the afternoon.
Two opposition players were left unmarked on the edge of the area, with one of which being Chris Maguire, a player who is well known for his shooting prowess from range.
Once the first ball had been cleared as far as Maguire, he was left unopposed from the initial corner delivery and subsequently fired in a shot which deflected into the net.
This was another example of Wimbledon’s defensive frailties which have plagued the campaign so far, with similar organisational issues leading to a goal being conceded from a corner against Ipswich.