PREVIEW: Luton Town v AFC Wimbledon

Steve McNulty wins this battle with Adebayo Akinfenwa last season
Steve McNulty wins this battle with Adebayo Akinfenwa last season

AFC Wimbledon are fast becoming masters of the late show in League Two this season.

Eight of the 12 points that Neal Ardley’s side have put on the bord so far have come courtesy of goals in the final 15 minutes.

Saturday’s 2-1 win over Notts County was another case in point as the Dons had trailed going into the closing stages.

However, goals from Dannie Bulman and Adebayo Akinfenwa saw the hosts prevail 2-1, climbing to 12th in the table.

The result was further proof that Wimbledon are starting to put their slow start to the League Two campaign behind them.

Ardley’s men began with three defeats from their opening four games, losing at home to Plymouth, followed by a defeat against Cardiff in the Capital One Cup.

Although they then triumphed 2-1 at Crawley, another loss, this time at home to Cambridge United and a draw with Carlisle made it just four points from a possible 12.

However, Ade Azeez’s late winner against Exeter saw the Dons start a four game unbeaten run in the league that has seen them pick up draws at both Mansfield and Yeovil, before last weekend’s late, late drama.

It was a fairly settled summer at Kingsmeadow too as Ardley didn’t make sweeping changes to a squad that finished 15th the previous campaign.

Portsmouth duo Andy Barcham and Paul Robinson were were two of the main additions, alongside Cambridge striker Tom Elliott, although the Dons did lose Sammy Moore to early pacesetters Leyton Orient.

Team news: Luton are expected to be without Nathan Doyle, Paul Benson and Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu for the match as all three continue to regain match fitness.

Scott Cuthbert is a doubt due to an ankle injury, as is Scott Griffiths with his wife expecting a baby, but Luke Guttridge is available after overcoming his knock.

AFC Wimbledon defender Will Nightingale is out after sustaining a groin injury in the 2-1 victory over Notts County, with Karleigh Osborne expected to take his place.

Top scorers: Hatters - Cameron McGeehan, Craig Mackail-Smith (3). Dons - Adebayo Akinfenwa (3).

Man in the middle: Brendan Malone, official has taken six games so far this season, showing 16 yellows and one red, including AFC Wimbledon’s 1-0 defeat at Cardiff in the Capital One Cup.

Brandished 60 yellows and five reds in his 31 games last term, as he took Luton’s 1-0 defeat at Newport County in March, his only other Hatters match.

Assistant referees are Paul Hobday and Adrian Tranter, with the fourth official Harry Lennard.

In charge: Neal Ardley, 43-year-old who made over 400 appearances during a club career that started with Wimbledon in 1991.

Played almost 250 games for the club after coming through the youth ranks, before moving to Watford in 2002, where he spent three seasons.

Joined Cardiff City in March 2005 and then Millwall for the 2006-07 campaign before retiring after a series of injuries in August 2007.

Began taking his coaches badges at the age of 24, and was appointed as head of the Cardiff City academy, staying for five years before being named manager of AFC Wimbledon on October 10, 2012.

View from the opposition: Ade Azeez talking to GetWestLondon - “The gaffer has put that belief in us that whether we are up or down we will make it hard for the other team.

“Maybe it was a negative mindset before, but this year the gaffer has said forget about last season, we can beat teams both home and away.

“He has given us a new freedom by making us aware of the things that make us a good team.”

One to watch: It’s pretty hard not to look past striker Adebayo Akinfenwa when discussing AFC Wimbledon.

The imposing forward began his career at Barry Town, before spells at Boston United, Leyton Orient, Rushden, Doncaster, Torquay, Swansea, Millwall, Northampton, Gillingham and then joining the Dons in June 2014.

Known as the Beast, he notched 15 goals last season and has bagged three so far this term, including two in his last two matches.

Friendly faces: Former Town forward Stuart Douglas is AFC Wimbledon’s physiotherapist.

Began his career at Hatters in August 1995 and made over 100 appearances, scoring 18 league goals before spells at Oxford and Rushden and then moving to Boston United on a free in August 2002.

Played for both: There aren’t too many who have worn the Luton and Dons shirt since the club reformed in 2002, although defenders Will Antwi and Curtis Osano have both done so.

Osano left Luton for the Dons in July 2012, while ex-Hatters defender Antwi also enjoyed a spell at Kingsmeadow too after his departure from Kenilworth Road in May 2012.

We’ve got form: Hatters have only managed to beat AFC Wimbledon once on home soil in their three previous meetings.

That was during the Conference back in 2010 when George Pilkington, Zdenek Kroca and Matthew Barnes-Homer netted.

Other than that, AFC ran out 2-1 winners in the 2009-10 season and enjoyed a 1-0 success last campaign.

Last time out: Luton fell to 1-0 defeat against AFC Wimbledon at Kenilworth Road last season when striker Matt Tubbs netted a 42nd minute winner for the visitors.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Fraser Franks (Jim Stevenson 79), Steve McNulty, Scott Griffiths, Luke Wilkinson, Andy Drury (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 71), Jake Howells, Luke Guttridge (Alex Wall 67), Matt Robinson, Paul Benson, Mark Cullen.

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Curtley Williams, Ross Lafayette.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 9,101.