A new home but are AFC Wimbledon better on the road?

AFC Wimbledon, a club rebuilt by the fans, are performing better away from the home comforts of SW17, so far in Sky Bet League One this season.

For only the second time in the last six seasons, the Dons are averaging a higher Points Per Game (PPG) when they are the visiting side, with a difference of 0.08 PPG.

Charlie, an AFC Wimbledon fan, spoke about the atmosphere and how he thinks it affects the players on the pitch.

He said: “I think we’re better away from home because we are a team who certainly love to be the underdogs and when we are at home, the support often gives us the upper hand.

“Wimbledon have come from behind to take wins and rescue a draw on so many occasions and it does seem like we need to concede to get us ticking. Away from home, however, we are certainly better from the first whistle.

“There is a collective togetherness on a match day, it is very loud and everyone gets behind the team. The togetherness was there at Kingsmeadow but now we are back it seems to have got so much better.”

Many elements will be the cause of why a team is better in certain situations.

If you break the stats down, you can look at how the team directly performs through goals scored and conceded.

Scoring goals is vitally important and if you don’t score goals, you will never win games.

Making sure you concede as fewer goals as possible also goes a long way in putting in better performances.

In the league, Wimbledon have not conceded away from home in the first 30 mins of a game this season as in impressive statistic when the only other team to also achieve this feat are Rotherham, who for context are currently sitting at the very top of the same division.

When at home, on the other hand, they have conceded four goals in that same time period.

Both of these, will be direct reasons for why the south west London side are performing as they currently are.

Fans are a key element to the away day atmosphere and can really provide a boost for the travelling team.

To get an understanding of the Wimbledon faithful on the road, I spoke to Ollie, a Cambridge United fan, about the effect the fans may have had on the game.

Ollie said; “The Wimbledon fans were fantastic at the Abbey. Just shy of 1,000 fans packed out the South Stand and it was great to see it so full.

“Just prior to the game, someone dressed in a massive SpongeBob SquarePants costume walked along the front of the stand and waddled up the steps behind the goal – I knew from that point that they weren’t your ordinary League One away fans.”

When asked if the fans had any effect on the game, Ollie answered; “I think they certainly did. As the Wimbledon fans kept singing, most of us Cambridge fans in the ground were quite nervous towards the end as we were trying to hold on to the win.

“From a Cambridge perspective, this pressure could have only been intensified massively by the away support.

“We had to be resolute to keep out the Dons and the away following did everything they could to suck the ball into the Cambridge goal in front of them.”

If we look at the general form and compare it to the rest of the division, the home form table puts Wimbledon in 22nd compared to the lofty heights of 9th in the away form table.

This is quite a drastic difference when the club are sat 17th in the table as it stands.

A stat whilst not the worst in the league is certainly something the club will want to avoid and pick up as many points where possible.

The last time, Wimbledon had a PPG that favoured them being the away side, was the 2018/19 season which also saw their lowest average gate figure in the last six League One campaigns.

They have since moved into their brand-new Cherry Red Records Stadium, which has seen attendance figures nearly double meaning a sizeable increase in the support they get on a matchday.

For AFC Wimbledon fans, the news of moving back to their spiritual home was the realisation of a dream that started in 2002.

It was unfortunately tainted by the ongoing pandemic which resulted in the 2020/21 League One campaign being played behind closed doors.

This season being played behind closed doors essentially ruled out the “home advantage” and as a result saw the Dons pick up the second least amount of points per game when they were playing at ‘Home’.

‘Home’ being a loosely used term here as the team ground shared with QPR at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium for a short time before playing at their new home for the first time, albeit with no fans present.

Wimbledon, so far, have managed to escape being dragged into the relegation battle after an emphatic start to the season.

There was a slight drop of form, but the team seem back on their way after the return of a fully fit Ollie Palmer.

As we move through Christmas and into the new year, AFC Wimbledon will be hoping they can keep their key players fit and keep themselves a comfortable distance away from the dreaded bottom four.

Photo credit: Gary Heffernan, CC BY 4.0

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