Downes plots final act of great AFC Wimbledon escape

BY YANN TEAR

Wally Downes insists his side have not allowed themselves to get carried away with the euphoria of Saturday’s triumph over Wycombe, which finally took them out of the relegation zone – saying there is still a job to do.

A win at Bradford City tomorrow and the Dons are definitely safe, while a draw will be enough as long as Southend and Plymouth don’t both win. Even then, Plymouth would need to win by at least four goals.

Southend take on Sunderland at home, who are set for the play-offs. Plymouth are at home to Scunthorpe – a side also battling for their lives.

Even a defeat for Wimbledon might not matter, as long as there is no more than one winner from the trio below them: Southend, Plymouth and Walsall (who are at Shrewsbury).

Scunthorpe would need an eight-goal swing to draw level with the Dons, in the event of a loss for Downes’ men.

But the Wimbledon boss told the South London Press: “Nothing is complete until everything is complete. I’ve made it clear to the players.

“They’ve put themselves in a position to close it out and achieve what we wanted when I came to the club. It will be a waste of the last three months if we think it’s done.

“We had a lap of honour at the end on Saturday, to say thanks to the fans, as you always do after the last home game, but as soon as the final whistle went, the preparations started. On Monday we had a review of the game and a light session.

“The fact a draw might be a enough makes no difference to the way we approach, because a defeat might also be enough!

“We will approach it with a winning attitude, as we always have done.”

Downes knows all about end of season dramas and knows what it will take to come away from Valley Parade knowing they have managed to cling on to their League One status.

“The key to getting the job done will be maintaining the performance levels we’ve been reaching,” he said. “I’ve given the players the freedom to play under the structure we have. We look to play forward when we can and get the ball into dangerous areas as often as we can. We won’t be changing our approach.

“I have to say I’ve not seen any nerves in the players. There may have been some before I arrived but there aren’t now. I see the players enjoying themselves and enjoying the challenge. If they didn’t enjoy it, there would be something wrong. I see them enjoying their work.

“I’ve been in a fair few situations like this before, in play-offs and in vital matches on the final day of the season and it’s just about those three points. You have to put everything else to one side.

“There is usually a carnival atmosphere on the final day and although Bradford may be down , they will have no pressure on them. They are in the position they are in for a reason though, and we need to eliminate outside influences and do our thing.”

The Dons travel to Yorkshire with a clean bill of health and the smart money will be on an unchanged line-up from the euphoric victory over Wycombe on Saturday. “I’m not a great one for changing a winning side,” he said.

Bottom of the table: 19th AFC Wimbledon 49pts, goal difference -21; 20th Southend (47pts, GD -14); 21st Plymouth Argyle (47pts, GD -25); 22nd Walsall (46pts, GD -22); 23rd Scunthorpe (46pts, GD -29); 24th Bradford City (40pts, GD -28).

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