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Opposition - Any Good? Wimbledon

By: Richard Lord
Date: 09/01/2003

WHEN Grimsby Town picked up their first point of the season in the 0-0 draw at home to Wimbledon back in August, the two sides were expected to be amongst those scrapping for survival in May.

However, the Dons have shown great character and resilience by proving the football pundits wrong. They may not be up amongst the teams bidding for automatic promotion or a play-off place, but they have remained clear of danger.

Scoring goals isn't a problem for Wimbledon. They have scored five goals in an away match on two occasions and their goal difference is a relatively healthy zero.

In fact, they appear to be more comfortable playing away from home, and who could blame them in the circumstances? Despite all their off-the-field troubles, the team are continuing to do a professional job.

Grimsby are on a four-game unbeaten run at present, and boss Paul Groves will be keen to extend the Mariners' good form. Wimbledon, on the other hand, haven't played a League game since their Boxing Day 0-0 draw at home to Watford.

In fact, their last League win came at Deep Dale where they came back from 3-1 down to hammer Preston 5-3. And just four games before that, the Dons recorded the same scoreline at Bradford's Valley Parade.

Inconsistency has been Wimbledon's major fault this season, but their ability to win tough-looking matches on paper has preserved their mid-table status.

What has undoubtedly been the Don's success story is their front two pairing of Neil Shipperley and David Connelly. The Scotsman and Irishman have combined impressively to score 29 goals between them in all competitions.

But Connelly pulled up with a hamstring injury towards the end of their 3-0 FA Cup win at Rotherham last weekend. The injury-ravaged striker will definitely miss the clash with Grimsby this Saturday.

The Wimbledon squad is not short of quality in other areas of the pitch either. Northern Ireland international Mark Williams, who made his name at Chesterfield in their epic FA Cup run of 1997, is the cornerstone of the Dons' defence.

Joel McAnuff, the highly-rated youngster who scored the winner against the Mariners last season, has since gone on to establish himself as a first team regular and can play both up front or on the wing.

Well-travelled defender Jermaine Darlington has hardly missed a game this season, since his £200,000 switch from QPR in the summer. He has proved to be a very useful utility player who can play on either side of defence.

And of course there is Trond Andersen, the influential Norwegian international who played under Egil Olsen in the Premiership and has remained at Selhurst Park ever since.

Wimbledon are capable of anything and Grimsby, who have become more of a threat away from Blundell Park just recently, are - on their day - a match for any side in this Division.

So it has 0-0 written all over it.

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