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In opposition: AFC Wimbledon - ones to watch

25 February 2022

Goalscoring has been top of the agenda for AFC Wimbledon head coach Mark Robinson since he took charge of the side, initially on an interim basis last January.

Robinson has relied on 13 different goalscorers so far this term with youngsters Ayoub Assal and Jack Rudoni combining for 15 of the team’s 44 goals in all competitions.

The defence is anchored by the presence of captain Ben Heneghan while New Zealand born goalkeeper Nik Tzanev has been a regular between the sticks.

Assal is due to return from a two-match suspension this weekend while academy product Luke McCormick was involved in Tuesday’s goalless draw with Gillingham after serving a ban of his own last weekend.

Ayoub Assal

The youngster has attracted plenty of attention since breaking into Dons side as a regular in the latter part of last season.

Assal joined the Dons academy at U12 level from Millwall and signed his first professional deal in 2019. He went on to make his senior debut in November 2019 in a Papa John’s Trophy defeat to AFC Wimbledon - an appearance which was sandwiched between loan spells with Metropolitan Police.

The 20-year-old’s Sky Bet League One debut came last March and he marked it in style with a late equaliser against Shrewsbury Town after coming off the bench.

Assal started ten of Wimbledon’s last 12 matches last season, scoring three goals in that run and earning a new three-year deal with the club.

He leads the scoring charts for the Dons this season with eight goals and six assists in 36 appearances so far.

He averages 45 per cent of his shots hitting the target with 1.37 shots per game.

Ben Heneghan

The Dons captain joined the club in November 2020 following his release by Sheffield United and has been a mainstay of the defence since.

The Manchester-born defender started his footballing life in the Everton Academy before moving to Stoke City in 2012.

In 2014 he joined non-league Chester and made 84 senior appearances in two years and earning England C honours before being snapped up by Scottish top flight side Motherwell.

After making 50 appearances in his first season at Fir Park, Heneghan returned to England with Sheffield United but managed just a single outing for the Blades. He spent two seasons on loan at Blackpool, making 80 appearances.

This season he has made 36 appearances for Wimbledon, scoring twice, and has been a major part of a defence that has kept eight clean sheets so far.

Luke McCormick

Meetings with Rovers have proven to be milestones for the highly-rated young midfielder in his career so far.

His debut on loan for Bristol Rovers came in a 4-1 defeat at Rovers while he netted both goals in a 2-1 win for the Gas in the reverse fixture.

And he marked his AFC Wimbledon debut with a goal in the Dons’ 2-1 triumph at the Eco-Power Stadium on the opening day of this campaign.

Big things have been predicted for the future of the former Chelsea Academy product, who joined Wimbledon on a permanent deal from the Blues last July.

The 23-year-old had been with Chelsea since the age of six and signed professional terms at Stamford Bridge in 2019.

Loan spells with Shrewsbury Town and Bristol Rovers followed as he built his experience at senior level across 50 appearances, with six goals.

McCormick has netted six goals in 37 appearances this season while also contributing seven assists. He averages 1.63 shots per game with an average of 23.9 per cent finding the target.

Jack Rudoni

Another hot prospect for the Dons, versatile midfielder Rudoni arrived in the club’s academy in 2011 and earned a professional contract in March 2019.

His senior league debut came against Rovers in December 2019 as the Dons triumphed 2-1 at Kingsmeadow.

In total he has made 93 senior appearances, scoring 12 goals.

This season he has netted seven times in 36 appearances and has contributed five assists. He leads the team’s shooting charts with 61 shots taken so far this term.


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