Insider: Pompey’s opponents keep springing surprises

Former Pompey skipper Paul Robinson
Former Pompey skipper Paul Robinson
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Toby Porter, of the South London Press, gives us the lowdown on AFC Wimbledon ahead of Pompey’s trip to Kingsmeadow.

AFC Wimbledon continue to punch above their weight and that is tremendous credit to those running the club and the manager.

They must have the third or fourth lowest budget in League One, yet keep performing and hanging around mid-table.

Last season they flirted with the play-offs early on and then faded towards the end with six matches without victory.

However, Neal Ardley’s team still managed to finish in 15th spot – eight points above the relegation zone.

The Wimbledon boss continues to beat the odds, backed by a very clever board who have created a stable football club.

There is even a new ground on the horizon, with the club due to move to an old greyhound stadium on the same road as the old Wimbledon stadium in Plough Lane.

That is scheduled for 2019-20, although work on the £40m venture has not yet started.

As for Ardley, he has been in charge since October 2012 and keeps producing an excellent job, despite having fewer financial resources compared to so many others at this level.

He previously worked in Cardiff’s youth system and has a reputation for bringing through youngsters and handing them first-team opportunities.

This season has started in steady fashion for Wimbledon as they seek to again remain competitive.

There has been one league victory – over Doncaster Rovers – while a win arrived in the Checkatrade Trophy against Barnet.

Overall, the form has been fair-to-middling to leave them sitting in 17th spot heading into this match, one point behind Portsmouth.

Last weekend they had a long journey to Blackpool and lost 1-0 after Nadjim Abdou was sent off early in the second half.

Now it’s back to Kingsmeadow – and Ardley’s men will be striving for victory to push them further up the table.

In his team, Liam Trotter is very important to how they perform, linking up play, strong on the ball and almost impossible to knock off it.

The experienced midfielder, who arrived from Bolton on a free transfer this summer, covers a lot of ground and is a key player.

Pompey fans will know all about Paul Robinson, who is now aged 35 and has made more than 100 appearances since leaving Fratton Park.

He is still going strong and is a bit of a hero among fans.

As for Andy Barcham, he can get past players, has a low centre of gravity and is unpredictable.