Boxing Day Preview

PRESENTS opened, toys built, food eaten, repeats on TV watched…Christmas Day is over and it’s now all about the football.

Argyle will spend their Boxing Day at AFC Wimbledon and a crucial battle down the bottom of Sky Bet League One. We take a look at some of the stats, facts and history ahead of today’s festive fixture.

The Managers
While Derek Adams is in his fourth season at the Plymouth Argyle helm, the opposing manager today, Wally Downes, has only been in the Wimbledon hot-seat for a few weeks after succeeding the long-serving Neal Ardley.

Despite being new to the current role, Downes has Wimbledon in his blood, spending almost a decade at the club as a player and a key figure in the glory years of the ‘Crazy Gang’, who climbed from the fourth tier to the first and famously won the FA Cup.

Downes has more than earned his stripes as a coach, working with the likes of Crystal Palace, Reading, Southampton and West Ham, plus a brief managerial stint at Brentford, setting him up nicely for the task ahead at Wimbledon.

Scoring Stars
Freddie Ladapo is comfortably leading the scoring charts for Argyle this season, with 12 goals in his 27 appearances and a sequence that has included four separate doubles. Joel Grant has hit the net on four occasions and Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras both have three each.

The top man for Wimbledon is former Maidstone, Cambridge and Luton forward Joe Pigott on four goals, with Kwesi Appiah behind him on three.

December Form
It has been a month that has typified Argyle’s season, starting with a narrow FA Cup defeat to Oxford and a 3-3 thriller with Bradford. A superb 2-1 victory at Rochdale was then followed up by a frustrating 3-0 loss to Accrington last weekend.

Likewise for Wimbledon, going down 2-1 to Chelsea Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy, a 1-1 draw with Rochdale and 2-0 loss at Charlton. Christmas was a little happier though, as goals from former Pilgrim Jake Jervis and Appiah earned Downes a first win at Wycombe.

The total record of games between Argyle and the new Wimbledon, reformed in 2002, stands at five wins for the Pilgrims, four draws and four wins for the Dons. The most recent game was a 1-0 victory for Argyle in October but, unfortunately, our biggest encounter came in May 2016 and a 2-0 triumph for Wimbledon in the League Two Play-Off Final.

Boxing Day Form
Gary Sawyer scored the only goal for Argyle in a 1-0 win at MK Dons on Boxing Day last year and the previous season on this festive day of football ended in a 3-3 draw at home to Wycombe, with Jordan Slew, Jervis and Yann Songo’o scoring the Argyle goals.

Wimbledon went down 2-1 at Portsmouth on Boxing Day last year and the previous season was even gloomier, as they succumbed to a 3-0 loss at Southend United.

The Rest
While we do battle at Kingsmeadow, the other clubs down the wrong end of Sky Bet League One will also take on big games today, with third-bottom Bristol Rovers travelling to Walsall and struggling Scunthorpe hosting in-form Luton Town.

Bradford City have moved just outside of the relegation zone but face the ominous task of a trip to promotion-chasing Sunderland this afternoon and not much easier for sixth-bottom Gillingham,  who host leaders Portsmouth.

For those who can’t make the Wimbledon game, watch it Live on iFollow

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