WEYMOUTH were rewarded for reaching the FA Cup first round for the first time in 15 years by drawing at home with second-tier AFC Wimbledon.
The Dons have come a long way since their formation in 2002, rising as far as League One before (like Weymouth) suffering relegation last season.
But what can Weymouth fans expect on Saturday 5 November from opponents 56 places above them in the English football pyramid?
Echosport’s Neil Walton spoke to AFC Wimbledon fan and West Dorset magazine sportswriter Harry Adams to find out all about South West Londoners.
KEEP READING: Havant 1-2 Weymouth – FA Cup Match Report
NW: “Perhaps you could let us know your reaction to the draw as it is rare for Weymouth to reach the first round and also attract a league club.”
SAY OH: “To be fair, without sounding patronizing to Weymouth, we expected what we would call an easier draw. We had a pretty bad start to the season and only won three of the first ten games. The form is pretty bad at the moment and the fans are not happy. Hopefully playing a team that’s in the bottom of the South (of the National League) gives us a chance to get a win and some momentum because we could use that.
NW: “So you think it’s a pretty favorable draw?”
SAY OH:: “We think so, yes, but we have seen great things happen. Boreham Wood left us quite conveniently last season. We wouldn’t be too surprised if the result wasn’t ours. We hope it was a small formality, but stranger things have happened.”
NW: “Fifty-six places separate the teams, what was the reaction from other AFC Wimbledon fans?”
SAY OH: “It is quite cheap. There are a lot of jokes about how we know what Wimbledon is like, losing has already been discussed, it’s just the way things are going for us. I think a lot of fans wanted a non-league club because we traveled through other leagues when we had to regroup after the Milton Keynes episode. We have quite a penchant for traveling to places outside of the league.”
Ahkeem Rose, centre, scored the winner for Weymouth at Havant (Image: DAVE HAINES)
NW: “Any idea it could be a banana peel because you’re going to a team that’s struggling in the league?”
SAY OH: “I am going to take it with confidence but always keep in mind, wherever you go outside the league, bad weather, many people, the field may not be what we are used to in football, the league always gives the possibility of a banana peel.
NW: “What about the away episode? Wimbledon had some of the biggest away support in League One last season and the teams had never met before.
SAY OH: “No, not that I know of. I’d be very surprised if it’s not out of stock, it’s so easy to get. I look forward to a strong following. I drove in the first round of the cup at Haringey a few years ago.
NW: “And for the Weymouth fans who probably haven’t seen much of AFC Wimbledon this season, what can they expect?”
SAY OH: “It’s weird because it’s really not that different from what you would have expected back then with the old Crazy Gang. It’s still very physical, we’ve always been a physical team. We’ve got some really great guys behind us, we’ve got Paul Kalambayi, who’s as strong as a bull, and guys like Lee Brown. So, very physical, direct and we have two great strikers. We have Josh Davison and Kyle Hudlin, the best player in the Football League. The physical and direct game has not really worked for us this season. The fans are quite dissatisfied. We are still going with three defenders, with two young full-backs in Jack Currie and Isaac Ogundere, who have probably been our best players this season. Much of our game can go down the wing. We also have some quick players, we have Ayoub Assal, a young striker who is probably our most dangerous player.
Jack Currie, left, has been identified as one of two AFC Wimbledon players to watch out for (Image: JAMES MANNING/PA WIRE)
NW: “You chose the two full-backs.”
SAY OH: “Yes, they were both in the minor leagues on loan to teams like Hampton & Richmond and Basingstoke. They broke into the first team this season. In what has been a pretty disappointing season, without too many standout players, these two have given us some hope for the future, they are very exciting. Those two are the ones to watch, just like Ayoub Assal, he’s brilliant.”
NW: “You have touted AFC Wimbledon’s physicality as a strength, so could they be vulnerable to a team that resists them well? Weymouth probably falls into that category in their prime.”
SAY OH: “Absolutely. This is how we have been caught most of the season this season, by teams that keep the ball on the ground. The times we have won it has been against teams that have lost the physical fight, and many times they also lose the fight mentally, especially in the plow zone. But far from teams that know how to keep the ball on the ground, they catch up with us. When our form is as bad at the beginning of the game as it is now, with heads and people falling, Asking for the manager’s head, I wouldn’t be surprised if Weymouth went into shock.
NW: “Is there a little bit of unrest among the fans because of manager Johnnie Jackson?”
SAY OH: “It is difficult for him, they appointed him in the summer and they are not flooding us with money to fire him and pay him. There is also this aspect. Personally, I might think it would be a bit difficult for him right now, but I wouldn’t be devastated if he got fired either. Especially after the loss to Sutton, there’s a lot of upset among the fans. There were some pretty nasty full-time scenes when fans climbed on players’ backs. The club has issued a statement about it, so things are not looking good for him at the moment. There’s a good chance he won’t even be manager when we play at Weymouth, but we’ll see.