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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

26 December 2023 Venue The Cherry Red Records Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

AFC Wimbledon v Sutton preview

26 December 2023

Boxing Day sees Sutton making the short trip to Plough Lane for the local derby against AFC Wimbledon, the first of three games in six days for U's. Sutton will be wearing all white.

Last season Sutton won all three games between Boxing Day and New Year's Day, a run rounded off by a 2-1 win over Tuesday's opponents in front of a VBS Community Stadium full house, and U's would love a similar return this year, looking to close the gap at the foot of the League Two table.

Before games away to Gillingham, who were also part of that sequence, and at home to Newport, U's face a side currently in the last of the play-off positions. Wimbledon have shrugged off a run of one win in six games in October to have only lost once in the last six since then, winning four of those to put themselves back in to promotion contention. Most recently they won 2-1 at Crawley on Friday night, but had defender Joe Lewis sent off for two yellow cards which means he will miss the Boxing Day game through suspension.

Dons will be looking to complete a double having won 3-0 at Sutton in August, but U's will have fond memories of their only previous league visit to the ground in October 2022, ending a run of four consecutive league defeats thanks to Craig Eastmond's first half goal.

Saturday's defeat against Mansfield left U's nine points adrift of the safety line in the League Two table, and interim manager Jason Goodliffe will lead U's in to the game against a side where he enjoyed success as a player. He was hoping that there were no new injury worries after the Mansfield game but may again be without centre backs Omar Sowunmi, Ben Goodliffe and Louis John.

Referee Sam Purkiss is in his fifth season on the EFL list and was in charge of U's opening day game against Notts County. This is the second time he has refereed Sutton at Wimbledon as he was in the middle for last season's EFL Trophy game which Wimbledon won 1-0.

There are still a few tickets left from our allocation for the game. On the day admission charges are £27 for adult, £19 for concessions and £7 for under 17s. Entry is through Gate 7, and anyone who has bought a ticket on line and not yet collected it can do so from that gate. Anyone who has purchased an age related ticket is liable to be asked for proof of age when entering the ground. A guide to the Cherry Red Records Stadium is here.

If you can't get there, the game will be the first of three live streams in the UK over the holiday period, with a match pass costing £10. Overseas viewers can still take advantage of the half-season ticket offer, with a pass costing just £85 to cover all league games to the end of the season, though not FA Cup ties. Click here for more information and to buy the required pass.

With no Thameslink service, or any other local National Rail service, operating on Boxing Day the usual quick route between West Sutton and Haydons Road is not available. Buses and trams are running, with the 493 bus connecting Wimbledon station to the ground every 20 minutes. It's about a 20-25 minute walk from the station to the ground. For drivers there is no parking at or close to the ground - street parking may be available in the roads between Wimbledon station and Haydons Road, where the majority of parking restrictions are lifted for a Bank Holiday (further details here), otherwise park in Wimbledon town centre and walk or get the bus as above. Be warned that on the other side of the ground, towards Earlsfield and Tooting, which comes under Wandsworth Council rather than Merton, match day parking restrictions are in place and further details can be found here .

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Match Reports

Match report for AFC Wimbledon 0 Sutton United 1

26 December 2023

AFC Wimbledon 0 Sutton United 1 (Sowunmi) 62

Sutton moved off the bottom of the League Two table with a first away win since the end of February, thoroughly deserving a second successive 1-0 league win at Plough Lane with what was comfortably U's best performance away from the VBS since that last away win at Newport. On the front foot from start to finish, Sutton were frustrated not to be ahead at half time, but Omar Sowunmi's goal just after the hour mark gave U's a deserved lead, and apart from an almighty scare in the last of eight minutes of stoppage time when home substitute Paul Kalambayi sent an overhead kick inches wide, that lead was skilfully preserved.

U's were able to welcome Ben Goodliffe back to the centre of the defence, one of four changes to the starting line-up against Mansfield, with Tope Fadahunsi on the right, Dominic Gape returning in midfield and Lee Angol partnering Harry Smith up front. Two of the returning players were involved as Sutton nearly backed up a good start with a goal, Gape's shot blocked after a free kick had been cleared to the edge of the penalty area, and Goodliffe creating a shooting opportunity only for Alex Bass to turn the effort wide of the near post. Nine minutes later U's created an even better chance with a superb exchange between Angol and Harry Smith sending Smith through, but Bass was off his line to block Smith's shot with his legs, Gape's follow-up effort was cleared and when Omari Patrick volleyed the loose ball back towards goal it was diverted wide by a combination of a defender and Bass.

Wimbledon posed little threat in the first half, with Dean Bouzanis able to deal comfortably with a Jake Reeves free kick and a low shot from James Tilley after a Jack Currie cross had carried over Sam Hart, and not troubled by Ali Al-Hamadi's header which went over from Armani Little's cross. However in the opening moments of the second half Tilley did go close when he cut in from the right before hitting a shot that was heading for the far corner before Joe Kizzi's deflection took it beyond the post  and out for a corner.

Sutton had replaced Goodliffe with Sowunmi at the break, a change made easier as Goodliffe picked up a yellow card for a foul just before the break, and after Patrick had again been foiled by Bass as he tried to tuck the ball in from a narrow angle after being cleverly put through by Smith, it was the tall centre back who finally provided the breakthrough as a long throw from Ryan Jackson was given the slightest of touches by Smith to send the ball past the near post and beyond Bass, and Sowunmi dived to nod it in to the empty net.

Wimbledon almost replied immediately as former U's favourite Omar Bugiel powered a shot goalwards and Kizzi took the full force on the side of his head, requiring treatment after Connor Lemonhaigh-Evans has sent the loose ball in to the arms of Bouzanis. The U's keeper was also forced to save a Currie shot above his head, and was grateful that Al-Hamadi put a header from another Little cross straight at him from close range, but Bass, whose receipt of the home team's Player of the Match gave an indication of U's superiority, had to make another good save to keep out a dipping deflected volley from Aiden O'Brien.

Sutton saw the game out relatively comfortably, but had to endure eight minutes of stoppage time before the win could be celebrated, and in the last of those Little's chip in from the right was met acrobatically by Kalambayi, whose shot bounced inches wide as U's supporters held their breath.

Sutton made a bright start, and Goodliffe had a shot turned away by Alex Bass after a free kick hadn't been cleared and Gape's shot had been blocked in to his path. Nine minutes later a delightful move saw Angol send Smith through, but his shot was saved by Bass, with Gape's follow-up cleared and Omari Patrick's shot diverted wide. Apart from a Jake Reeves free kick which was comfortably saved by Dean Bouzanis, Wimbledon had carried little threat but when Jack Currie's cross reached James Tilley, U's were fortunate that having created space for the shot he sent it straight at Bouzanis.

Sutton: D Bouzanis, R Jackson, S Hart (sub R Milsom 83), J Kizzi, B Goodliffe(sub O Sowunmi H-T), D Gape (sub C Clay 59), T Fadahunsi(sub D Pereira 59), L Angol(sub A O'Brien 73), , H Smith, H Beautyman, O Patrick. Subs n/u S Arnold. Booked: Goodliffe, Patrick, Clay, Smith

AFC Wimbledon: A Bass, H Biler, J Currie, J Reeves, A Pearce(sub P Kalambayi 81), R Johnson, J Tilley(sub J Davison 69), A Little, O Bugiel (sub H Pell 80),A Al-Hamadi, J Neufville (sub C Lemonhaigh-Evans 60).  Subs n/u N Tzanev, J Ball, I Ogundere. Booked: Biler, Bugiel, Currie

Referee: Sam Purkiss

Attendance: 8,575(1,200 away)

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