This is not a name you will be familiar with, outside of South West 19. Fans of AFC Wimbledon have, however, been drooling over the latest academy product to make an impression in the first team.
Jack ‘Rudi’, Rudoni
An absolutely outstanding attacking midfielder, come winger at just 18- years- old, but playing with the maturity of a senior professional.
Unphased or so it seems playing in League One, Rudoni has yet to make 50 appearances for the Dons and so far has already scored two goals. But don’t be misled by these unflattering stats. This is a lad destined for great things
When things start happening for him as they surely will with the grounding Wimbledon are giving him then expect a big side to make a bid for him. If that happens, Wimbledon will find it hard to resist. Lesser talents have been sold in previous years for big amounts and gone on too have good careers
By comparison, Rudoni is different class. Though he is very young, he is the first name on the team sheet most weeks and he will be itching to start and score against Hull today
AFC Wimbledon, this afternoon will look to build on their good solid win against Gillingham last Tuesday, with another win at ‘Fortress Plough Lane against Hull City.
Hull, currently riding high and …scoring goals pretty freely, arrive at Plough Lane, having suffered a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town in midweek
They will be looking to bounce back from that and invarioubly when they have a blip, tend to come back strongly in the next match.
Currently the two teams have opposite goal differences…
Hull have a plus 21
Wimbledon have minus 20
So based on the current season long stats, you might expect it to be a one-sided affair in favour of the Tigers
Since taking the reins as AFC Wimbledon head coach Mark Robinson has installed a new belief in the players, tweaking their formation to a more balanced but aggressive 4- 2- 3-1 formation, with emphasis on a high press
The players have shown over the last couple of weeks of using it that it works. The players wanted a more possession based game so that they could choose when they rest during the game, while at the same time, wearing the opposition out
The squad has yet to be selected, but certainly the team that played against Giilingham on Tuesday, would be worthy contenders to start this afternoon.
That being the case, then one name to watch out for is
Cardiff City have stormed into the play-off places after a winning run of six games. This weekend they will travel to their former manager’s team Middlesbrough, one of the teams now looking to knock City out of the top six.
In midweek Middlesbrough were beaten 3-1 at home by Bristol City, while Cardiff travelled to Bournemouth and picked up a 2-1 win. Middlesbrough were blown away in the first half against Bristol City as the Robins took a three-goal lead. Dael Fry got a late consolation for Boro’, who dropped down to ninth place.
Cardiff led two goals to nil after a dominant first half performance, with goals from Sean Morrison and a Kieffer Moore penalty. Shane Long, who came on as a sub, pulled one back for the host’s but despite forcing Cardiff in to defending most of the second half the Cherries were unable to find a second. The result meant Cardiff moved above Bournemouth into sixth place.
For Middlesbrough Ashley Fetcher has been ruled out of this game after pulling up in the early stages of the game on Tuesday. Yannick Bolasie and Marcus Tavernier have both been training but manager Neil Warnock has ruled them out of the visit of Cardiff:
“Tav and Yannick are both training, but we have to be careful with them,” Warnock said.
“They are getting better, but with so many games coming up you don’t want to take unnecessary risks.
“Bolasie trained really well yesterday, and we’re going to have a meeting today to check up on him. Apparently he’s a week away.”
Former Cardiff winger Nathaniel Mendez-Lang could get his first start against his former club. The former Bluebird had his contact terminated on the eve of the season for what Cardiff called a “Serious breach of contact”. Information came out in January that he had twice shown traces of cocaine in his system resulting in two bans.
Cardiff will be glad that Joe Ralls will be in contention for the match after an ankle injury. Junior Hoilett is also available for the match squad but despite 60 minutes for the under 23’s this week Lee Tomlin is not fit enough yet for first team action. Jordi Osei-Tutu could be back for the 8th of March.
Recent Form and Past Meetings
Middlesbrough have lost five of their last eight, with just two wins. Despite the poor form they did manage a 2-0 away victory at Reading along with a goalless draw at leaders Norwich City.
Cardiff are unbeaten in eight games, having won six in a row. Four of these wins have come away from Cardiff City Stadium.
The teams drew 1-1 earlier in the season George Saville giving Middlesbrough a half time lead lead before Sheyi Ojo equalised. Prior to that The Bluebirds have won the previous four meetings.
The last win for the home side came in 2016. It may be a good omen for the hosts as that season they went on to finish second.
Neil Warnock speaking ahead of the game against his former side:
“There’s probably one or two players there who I upset as well and no doubt tomorrow they’ll like to show me what they can do.
“But overall I took most of them there and I think they’ve got a great squad.
“I don’t think anyone will expect us to get anything with the form they’re in and then us getting beat the other night.
“But we’ve got to come up with a way of giving them a good game.
“I don’t think there are many teams at the moment who could beat Cardiff the way that they’re playing.
“I think they had 26% possession the other night against Bournemouth. All these people who want a certain style of football… well what about winning games and getting up the table like Mick has done?
“It’s the right way to go about it – winning games.
“We know we’ll have to contend with 10 long throws, 10 corner kicks and 10 free-kicks all coming in and we’ll have to cope with it or we’ll just be another notch on their gun.
“We haven’t got players the size of Morrison or Flinty but we have to find a way to cope with it. It’s all within the laws of the game.
“They’ve not lost a game since Mick came and they’re not going to change their style, and why should they? Mick’s not bothered about the beauty of football. He knows how to win games and that’s what football is about.
“Do you think Cardiff fans will be mad at him for all the long throws if they get to the Premier League? Course they won’t. It’s a fallacy all this style and what have you. Bournemouth had the style the other night but it was all in their own half!
“We’ve got to travel up there, and I know we’ll be expecting a really tough game.
“They got beaten by Bristol City in midweek, so they’ll be wanting a reaction.
“I’m looking forward to the game. We’re all looking forward to the games because we’re winning them, and let’s hope that continues. If the players keep playing the way they have been, there’s no reason why we should be beaten.
“If anyone ever says one of my teams is nice to play against, I’d be annoyed and insulted. The best teams are horrible to play against, for whatever reason.
“Neil’s teams are likewise. If we came off on Saturday and I said to him: “You were really pleasant to play against”, I think he’d be as annoyed as I would be – and that’s not going to be the case.”
Nathaniel Mendez-Lang could come back to haunt Cardiff. Cardiff’s players and supporters will know very well the quality of the winger. Neil Warnock was the man to bring him to City and knows how to get the best out of the player. He came play either side so Cardiff’s wing backs, Joe Bennett and Perry Ng will need to be at the top of their game.
The point of the attack and the first line of defence. Kieffer Moore’s contribution for Cardiff this season is about more than his 15 goals. Leading the front line and holding up the ball to play in players like Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo. But when they are without the ball Moore is the first line of defence pressing down defenders.
AFC Wimbledon finally secured a win at their new Plough Lane home last night against Gillingham.
Under the managership of their former Youth Coach Mark Robinson and with a change of formation to a more balanced 4-2-3 -1, it was Gillingham who were the latest visitors
The Gills have proved useful on the road, with their direct style, bringing back memories of the previous reincarnation of Wimbledon.
Wimbledon, made a couple of changes from the side well beaten at Peterborough last time out. Ben Heneghan returned in the centre of defence to partner Will Nightingale with Luke O’Neill dropped to the bench and Darnell Johnson, the loanee from Leicester, moving to right back.
Dons head coach Robinson had called for a solid performance from his team, placing emphasis on the players asking to play a certain way. The first half was certainly testament to that with Wimbledon playing on the front foot for much of the half but unable to gain any advantage.
Gillingham were, however, certainly frustrated and the first half ended 0-0.
At the start of the second half Gillingham made two changes to try and gain an advantage. For 15 to 20 Minutes they certainly piled on the pressure, but Wimbledon stood firm and started to get control of the game, with both their fullbacks making good steady progress down both flanks.
However, Gillingham stood firm and it wasn’t until the 89th Minute that Jack Rudoni, a product of the Clubs youth system, made the break through with a wonder strike, which was enough too win the game for Wimbledon.
It was indeed no more than Wimbledon deserved and was evident by the fact that Gillingham began arguing at every decision that went against them even after the final whistle had gone.
So Wimbledon won 1-0 and layed down a marker, for making Plough Lane a fortress. The win also lifted Wimbledon out of the relegation zone.
Will Fortress Plough Lane see off Hull City? The Tigers are next up for Robinson’s men on Saturday.
Ellen White stole the show as England triumphed 6-0 over Northern Ireland in their first fixture of the year at St George’s Park earlier today.
Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly and debutant Ella Toone also got on the scoresheet as interim boss Hege Riise got her tenure underway with a comfortable victory.
The Lionesses dominated the encounter from start to finish, with Kenny Shiels’ side struggling to get out of their own half for large periods of the game. They will also be grateful to goalkeeper Becky Flaherty for keeping the scoring in single digits.
Riise raised a few eyebrows with her first starting line up, as Chloe Kelly was only named on the bench. Houston Dash’s Rachel Daly was afforded a start on the wing with Georgia Stanway and Jordan Nobbs joining Jill Scott in the centre of the park. The on loan Everton midfielder was given the captain’s armband on her 150th appearance for England.
Keira Walsh pulled out of the squad late yesterday after a thigh injury and will now be assessed by Man City.
Kenny Shiels gave Birmingham full back Rebecca Holloway her first cap, with striker Simone Magill, as expected, coming back into the side after injury to lead the line. A late injury to Jackie Burns also saw Sheffield United goalkeeper Beckie Flaherty starting in goal.
With the Olympics coming up in the summer and the vast majority of the squad being made up of English players, the Lionnesses intent to stake their claim to be on the plane to Tokyo was clear from the off.
They hassled and hurried the Northern Irish defence and had a number of chances before the eventually broke the deadlock on 18 minutes.
Man City striker White met Daly’s cross with just three minutes of the contest gone, but couldn’t direct her header on target. The 31-year old had another opportunity moments later when Scott slipped her through, but she was denied by Flaherty, before the goalkeeper reacted well to save from Nobbs on the follow up.
England could have been three goals to the good inside the first ten minutes were it not for Flaherty, who pulled off another good save to prevent Bronze’s header from finding the top right hand corner.
Shiels will be disappointed in the manner in which Northern Ireland conceded the opener. White capitalising on a misplaced pass from McCarron, intercepting the ball before driving into the area and firing a effort into the far corner.
That goal opened the flood gates, and Riise’s side got two more in quick succession. On 23 minutes, Bronze burst down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for White, who glanced a header into the net for her and England’s second.
Their third game just five minutes later, again from a good cross into the box which Northern Ireland struggled to deal with. This time it was Hemp on the opposite flank putting in a tantalising delivery which Bronze at the back post slid into to tap home.
The Lionesses’ were hungry for more and had one more clear cut chance late in the half to further extend their lead. Jordan Nobbs swung in a free kick to the near post, and the unmarked Hemp got on the end of it, but her header went wide.
Riise opted to make one change at the break, with Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone making her international bow in place of Jordan Nobbs.
England continued to dominate the early proceedings of the second period as White’s spurned a glorious opportunity for her hat-trick. Toone was involved almost immediately, finding White in the box, who lifted the ball over the onrushing Flaherty, but off-target.
She didn’t have to wait for her third for long however, with the hat-trick goal coming just two minutes later on 49 minutes. Scott threaded the ball through to the striker and she did the rest, wriggling past Nelson and rifling the ball into the top corner for her 39th England goal.
She had the ball in the back of the net for a fourth time just after the hour mark, by which time Everton keeper Sandy MacIver, had come on for her debut in place of Roebuck, but the goal was ruled out for offside. The former Birmingham forward had just strayed beyond Nelson before latching onto Kelly’s cross.
England got their fifth not long after however, with Rachel Daly, who was a thorn in Northern Ireland’s side all game, sweeping home from close range after Bronze had surged down the right and put it on a plate for her.
They almost had a sixth on 72 minutes after a well worked short corner routine presented Kelly with a chance to strike from distance. The Man City winger tried to bend her effort into the far corner but it whistled wide of the far post.
The final goal of the day came with just fifteen minutes of the game remaining. Kelly, who looked lively when she came off the bench, went down under a challenge from Holloway and the referee pointed to the spot.
Up stepped young Toone, who coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, sending Flaherty the wrong way to complete the route and net her first international goal on her first appearance.
Debuts then followed for Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy and Bristol City’s Ebony Salmon as England saw out the game, with Northern Ireland failing to register a single shot on target on a difficult afternoon for Shiels side.
Speaking post match, the former Derry City manager told the BBC:
“There were some positives and some negatives. England are stronger and quicker than us and that was a big obstacle for us to overcome,
“We made three uncharacteristic mistakes for the three goals and I wish we could have been a bit more competitive,” he concluded.
Opposition number Riise was delighted with England’s performance in her first game in charge:
“Obviously I’m pleased with six goals, four players getting their first cap and that we pushed for 90 minutes and wanted more goals. We tried to find the pockets in between, run at them and I think we showed character” stated the former Norwegian international.
She continued, “We probably could’ve scored more goals but the performance and energy that we put into the game was good.”
Northern Ireland now have to regroup ahead of their historic Euro 2022 two legged play off game, and they will discover their opponents of that tie next month.
As for the Lionesses, they will take on Canada in April as the squad gear up for the rescheduled Olympic Games.