12 months ago AFC Wimbledon hosted League One's leaders - Portsmouth return unrecognisable

A year apart, yet aeons difference.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 6:00 pm
Gareth Evans and Ben Thompson celebrate then-League One leaders Pompey scoring at AFC Wimbledon 12 months ago. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

This time 12 months ago, Pompey had returned from Kingsmeadow having strengthened dominance at League One’s summit.

For Saturday’s return, they are battling to rise from a disappointing 16th position, while promotion rivals continue to stretch their lead.

The contrast couldn’t be more emphatic ahead of the trip to AFC Wimbledon.

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In terms of personnel, there will be plenty of similarities with that team which triumphed 2-1 a year ago, yet performances have been unrecognisable.

It was Tom Naylor and Gareth Evans who netted at The Dons for an October 13, 2018, scoreline which should have been far more emphatic, following an impressive first half.

James Hanson pulled one back on 63 minutes to prompt a nervy finish, nonetheless Kenny Jackett’s side held on for their ninth win in 13 League One outings.

That outcome retained their three-point advantage over Peterborough at the table’s top as supporters gazed towards Championship football.

Following 13 matches, the Blues boasted 30 points, were unbeaten away from home in all competitions, and possessed the league's second-best goal difference.

In the present day, ahead of their Kingsmeadow return, the pressure is even greater on Jackett and his side to depart with victory.

Of that last starting XI, Nathan Thompson, Matt Clarke, Ben Thompson, Jamal Lowe and Dion Donohue have left, three of which by their own hand.

Jackett had also introduced a 4-4-2 system as a one-off, pairing Lowe with Oli Hawkins as a strikeforce, while Ben Close and Brett Pitman appeared from the bench.

Pompey’s boss sprung a selection surprise on that occasion – similarly, predicting the system and personnel to be rolled out on Saturday is futile.

Points comparisons are difficult considering the Blues have three matches in hand on a number of clubs, largely through no fault of their own.

Nonetheless, they presently have 13 points as opposed to 30 at the same period last season.

League leaders are currently Ipswich who, having played one additional game, possess 14 more points and a goal difference superior by 15.

It has been 12 months since the sides last met in Kingston upon Thames. It seems a lifetime ago.