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AFC Wimbledon season review: Patchy form and away struggles undermine campaign of promise

AFC Wimbledon achieved their highest ever Football League finish this season, but it was still a campaign of intermittent form and ultimately frustration.

The Dons ended League Two in 15th with 58 points, their best finish and points tally since they first returned to league four seasons ago.

Early season form had suggested a strong campaign as they went undefeated in their opening three games and were in a season-high fifth place.

And they were even in with a chance of the play-offs with eight games to go but failed to win any of them as their form tailed away.

Their biggest failings came away from Kingsmeadow where they won just four times and took 20 points on the road compared to 38 at home. They ended the season without a win away in 2015, a run of 12 games.

While the end result may not have been everything the Dons had hoped for, there were plenty of highlights to remember.

A run of three wins in a row in September included a 3-0 thumping of eventual champions Burton Albion and they were always entertaining at home, ending the season as the sixth highest scorers on their own patch.

There was also the mouth watering and nostalgia-inducing third round FA Cup tie against Liverpool in January.

Wimbledon’s “crazy gang” had earned a famous 1-0 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1988 and there was much talk about that game before this one.

In front of a capacity home crowd, a goal from Adebayo Akinfenwa had cancelled out Steven Gerrard’s header, before the Liverpool captain’s second-half free-kick ended Wimbledon’s cup run.

For all the positives, there were negatives.

Incredibly, the Dons failed to beat any of the league’s bottom six, taking just six points from a possible 36 against them.

Two wins in the final 15 games was a poor end, with their struggles obviously coming in front of goal, where they netted just twice in their final six games.

Matt Tubbs, who left to Portsmouth in January after scoring 12 goals, was never really replaced, though Akinfenwa ended the season as top scorer with 14 strikes.

The season also included an emotional goodbye to club favourite Alan Bennett after the Irishman left to join hometown club Cork City.

The centre back had been at the club since 2013 and played an important role as the side fought off relegation during Ardley’s first year in charge.

As the season came to a close, Ardley remained steadfast in his belief that he can take the Dons into League One even if that means breaking up his squad.

He said: “I will work my socks off to put together a team capable of promotion next season and that will always be what I’m trying to achieve.”

After a season of indifferent form punctuated with decent displays, Dons fans will look to next year with renewed hope of a more concerted promotion push.

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