AFC Wimbledon v Bradford City: Stuart McCall wary as Dons turn back the clock

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WIMBLEDON prospering against all the odds in a stadium that is comfortably the smallest in the division.

Sounds like a trip down memory lane to the days when Dave Bassett’s band of brothers went from the Fourth Division to the summit of the game in a true footballing fairytale.

But the modern-day Dons, formed out of the old club being moved 60-odd miles north to Milton Keynes in 2002, are living up to their illustrious forefathers by launching an unlikely push for the Championship.

After a slow start following last May’s play-off triumph, Neil Ardley’s side have soared up the League One table and sit sixth.

For a club whose home holds just 4,800 fans, it is a remarkable turn of events and one that Stuart McCall knows has been earned the hard way.

“I played against the old Wimbledon and being a midfielder I never got a kick of the ball because it was always in the air,” said the Bantams’ chief. “That was just how they played.

“Don’t get me wrong, they had some fantastic players. Lads like Lawrie Sanchez, Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise were all fine footballers. But games against Wimbledon were, as a midfielder, all about winning the second ball and matching their determination.

“Only by doing that could you have a chance. I am not trying to liken this team to that one back then. The team in the Eighties won the Cup and were in the First Division. But what this team has today is the same never-say-die attitude as the old Wimbledon. They never give up.

“There is also a real togetherness about the entire club. I am told it is a sell-out for our visit and while the 4,800 crowd will be way down on the 20,000 that watched us against Sheffield United last week, I am expecting it to be a lively atmosphere.”

City, beaten just once this season, will have to be on their guard in the air today. Wimbledon boast the highest tally of headed goals in the division, something that has been a big factor in the club’s charge up the table.

McCall added: “We will have to be strong against another in-form team. They had a slow start, but have been in great form lately. Wimbledon’s big strength is they are a team so we will have to match their energy and belief.

“It is another tough game, but one I fancy us to do well in. We need to get the ball down and play whenever we can. We played well against Sheffield United (in last weekend’s 3-3 draw) and we have to start where we left off.”