The Wombles are Finding Form
The reincarnated Wimbledon side have found form at the right time to pull themselves clear of the fourth division drop door. However, they still remain in a perilous position and have to continue to grind out victories to ensure that their return to the football league wasn’t a brief excursion. Manager and club legend Neal Ardley urged his team to play without fear and his players have responded with the kind of brave performances that the boss was looking for. A home win against League Cup finalists Bradford, a notable draw against the promotion pushing Northampton and an away win against Dagenham & Redbridge have given the South West London side seven vital points in the space of one week. Ardley has been busy in the loan market bringing in Brighton striker Brennan Dickenson and Cardiff youngster Jesse Darko to bolster their attacking options. With the addition of the vastly experienced forward Gary Alexander –Wimbledon will believe they are well equipped to score goals. Alexander helped Crawley to promotion last season and he will be a key player for the Wombles in the final run in. It could well be his goals that keep the club in the league that they have worked so hard to get to. Tuesday night’s fixture against bottom of the table Plymouth will be another test of their newly found steel. A positive result could see the club rise another two places up the league and Ardley will be desperate to keep the club on their recent upward trajectory. The bottom of the table is incredibly close and not one team in the lower half will feel that their League Two status is safe just yet. However, Wimbledon have shown they are up for the fight and in the scrap for survival that is half of the battle.
The Fight for Third Place will go the Distance
Come the end of the season, the top two promotion places are becoming increasingly likely to be occupied by Gillingham and Port Vale. However, while their places in League One seem as safe as gold bars in Fort Knox their final automatic partner remains a virtual unknown. Currently there are eight teams vying for that promotion place. Even Bradford in eleventh will have an eye on that final spot now their League Cup adventure has come to an end. Just, six points separate third and ninth and those in the chasing pack hold precious games in hand. Burton Albion are the latest occupants of third place but they could fall as far as sixth if results fail to go their way on Tuesday night. However, the Brewers are in good form having won each of their last three games and scoring ten goals in the process. Behind them, Northampton are hot on their tails and are themselves unbeaten in four. Then come Rotherham who have won four of their last five and have two games in hand on Burton and Northampton. Currently, no clear leader looks set to emerge from the chasing peloton and with so many teams vying for one spot it appears that the race for promotion may well go to the last weekend.
Beginning of the end for Dagenham?
For the past nine years Dagenham & Redbridge have been performing remarkably in league football. At a glance you may not notice the incredible work that goes on at this small club in east London. Only Accrington Stanley can claim to have a smaller average attendance in the football league, with little over 1500 people turning up each week to see the Daggers play. Their supporters are aware that they are a football club that has overachieved for nearly a decade. In 2010 they were promoted for the first time in their history to the third tier of English football where they played on merit against grand old clubs such as Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday. Masterminding this unlikely success has been West Ham born John Still. Taking over the Daggers in 2004 he led them to the Football League for the first time in their history. Still works on a shoestring budget and keeps the clubs finances in check via a policy of selling rising stars and giving the best of local non-league talent a chance to prove themselves in the professional game. Unlike other small and historically part time clubs that have risen to league status, Dagenham have done so without the large financial backing that the likes of Crawley and Fleetwood have recently enjoyed. The news then coming through this week that they are likely to lose the man that has so successfully and steadily steered the club for nearly a decade may well be a terminal blow for the clubs football league adventures. It is widely reported that John Still will be leaving the Daggers and looking to work his magic for conference side Luton Town. Luton have a fan base and infrastructure that make them sleeping giants outside of the football league and the allure of their potential may be difficult for Still to turn down. For the Daggers however, the loss of such an influential man may well leave a hole they are unable to repair.