Scouting report: AFC Wimbledon

A closer look at the Wombles ahead of Wanderers' first ever trip to The Cherry Red Records Stadium

Ahead of Wanderers' first ever meeting with AFC Wimbledon, take a closer look at Neal Ardley's side...

Competing in the third tier of English football for the first time following their play-off success against Plymouth Argyle last season, AFC Wimbledon will be keen to continue their remarkable rise of the football ladder.

Only founded in 2002, Neal Ardley looked to strengthen his squad ahead of the campaign with the arrivals of Ryan Clarke, Chris Welpdale, Dean Parrett, Darius Charles, Dominic Poleon, Tyrone Barnett and Sean Kelly.

Following a mixed pre-season, the Wombles started the season with an opening day defeat at Walsall, before being knocked out of the EFL Cup by Peterborough United in midweek.

Looking to kick-start their season this weekend against Wanderers, Wimbledon will eager to impress in front of their home fans in what will be their first game at The Cherry Red Records Stadium this year.

• W 2-0 - Reading H - (Pre-Season Friendly, 23/7/16)
• L 2-3 - Crystal Palace A - (Pre-Season Friendly, 27/7/16)
• W 1-2 - Woking A - (Pre-Season Friendly, 29/7/16)
• W 0-1 - Dagenham & Redbridge A - (Pre-Season Friendly, 30/7/16)
• L 3-1 - Walsall A - (Sky Bet League One, 6/8/16)
• L 3-2 - Peterborough United A - (EFL Cup, 9/8/16)

Taking his first steps into management with AFC Wimbledon in October 2012, Neal Ardley led the Wombles into Sky Bet League One this season having helped mastermind their Play-Off Final victory over Plymouth Argyle back in May.

A midfielder during his playing days, the former England Under-21s international spent the majority of his career with the original Wimbledon during the nineties, before hanging up his boots in 2007 because of injury after stints with Watford, Cardiff City and Millwall.

Beginning his coaching career back in south Wales with his former club Cardiff, the 43-year-old was appointed manager of the Bluebirds' academy shortly after his retirement, having been preparing for a career as a coach since the age of 24.

Later taking over at AFC Wimbledon, with former Wanderers defender Neil Cox named as his assistant manager, he narrowly guided his side to League Two safety in his first few months at the club, surviving the drop courtesy of a final day victory over Fleetwood Town.
He also led AFC Wimbledon to their first ever victory over MK Dons in October 2014, before securing promotion to the third tier last season. 

Having joined AFC Wimbledon in May 2013, Wombles skipper Barry Fuller captained the club to promotion last season as they beat Plymouth Argyle in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Offf Final.

Starting his professional career with Charlton Athletic, the former England 'C' international made his professional debut during a loan spell with Barnet during the 2005/06 season, before joining Stevenage Borough on a free transfer at the end of the campaign.

An FA Trophy winner with the club in 2007, he signed for League One side Gillingham the following January but was unable to prevent them from suffering relegation.

Named Gills captain in October 2008, the 31-year-old helped them secure an immediate return to the third tier as they beat Shrewsbury Town in the 2009 Play-Off Final.

Signing for Barnet in August 2012, he spent a season with the club before making the move to AFC Wimbledon.

On the scoresheet in AFC Wimbledon's Play-Off Final victory over Plymouth Argyle, Lyle Taylor finished his first season at The Cherry Red Records Stadium with 23 goals as the Wombles secured promotion.

Starting his senior career with Millwall, the Montserrat international spent time on loan at Eastbourne Borough and Croydon Athletic before joining Concord Rangers having failed to make an appearance during his time with the Lions.

A prolific solitary campaign with the club earned him a move back to the Football League with AFC Bournemouth. However, he failed to score a goal during his time with the Cherries - subsequently enjoying brief loan stints with Lewes, Hereford United and Woking.

Making the move north of the border with Falkirk in July 2012, the 26-year-old scored 29 goals during his sole season in Scotland before being snapped up by Sheffield United.

With two separate loan stints with Partick Thistle sandwiching a permanent move to Scunthorpe United, the forward joined AFC Wimbledon in July 2015.

And having enjoyed a successful first season with the club, Taylor is already off the mark this having scored in both their opening day defeat to Walsall and EFL Cup defeat against Peterborough United.

LAST AFC WIMBLEDON XI (v Peterborough United, L 3-2)
Clarke, Fuller, Robinson, Kelly, Charles, Reeves, Whelpdale (Beere 45), Parrett, Poleon (Taylor 69), Barcham, Barnett (Elliott 69).

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