MATT TUBBS may have given the Dons a parting gift as Wimbledon rewarded (teased) their faithful with a well-received 2-0 win at Portsmouth on Boxing Day.
Boos instead of chimes rang out at Pompey as the Dons scored off first-half set pieces through Frankie Sutherland and Tubbs to make a mockery of their jittery home form to be unbeaten in their last three trips on the road. There’s the consistency for you!
While it was three welcome points before a 17,558 Fratton Park festive/restive crowd without the reassuring muscular presence up front of Adebayo Akinfenwa — out with a badly bruised shin — it was Tubbs, or his pending whereabouts, that was the talking point.
The Dons have Tubbs on a supposed season-long loan from AFC Bournemouth, but Ardley has indicated that “four or five clubs” are interested in signing Matt Tubbs. It appears one of those clubs is Portsmouth. Well, Pompey certainly think so…
One Pompey fan has told WDSA that the fallen 2008 FA Cup winners have made enormous strides off the field financially and are now debt free almost two years earlier than projected. That indicates they will have some money to splash about to clamber out of the fourth tier, albeit they are having with some difficulty. Tubbs looks like one of their targets.
“It’s been a long running saga here, and a current point of conflict between our Chairman and Manager Andy Awford. Tubbs was touted in the summer to various clubs by Bournemouth. Awford turned him down and went for Craig Westcarr of Walsall who scored 18 in league 1 last season,” a Pompey fan told WDSA.
“Our Chairman wanted him as did a lot of fans. Wimbledon are currently paying 25% of his wages. He has a half-season break clause in his contract and Bournemouth don’t want him back.
“Awford went on record this week saying he is interested in signing him. Apparently four or five others are interested too. Ardley has said it’s going to be difficult to keep him.
“Obviously, he scored today, but he had a decent game too showing up our forwards for what they are… Particularly Westcarr.! Our Chairman clapped off Tubbs in a move which is seen by many as a bit unprofessional and a public finger up to Awford.
“When Tubbs scored he made a point of not celebrating. He’s also been following a few of the Pompey players on Twitter and many think a move to us is on the cards. I’m not so sure it’s that simple because of percentages and us possibly having to move a few out… We’ll see but I think there’s a good chance he’ll be at Fratton soon I’m afraid.”
Much of Ardley’s plans for the season have hinged around Tubbs and Akinfenwa, so it will be interesting to see what the gaffer’s response will be should Tubbs leave Kingsmeadow during the January transfer window with memories of the problems Wimbledon encountered this time last season when another key loan Michael Smith upped and left for Swindon Town and the Dons never adequately replaced him.
Tubbs has scored 14 goals — 11 in the league — and it’s almost halfway through the season. While the dream partnership with Bayo has not always lived up to its billing, the Dons certainly have a goal threat they didn’t possess last season as was shown against Pompey on Boxing Day.
Wimbledon are on 30 points after 22 games and in 12th spot. That’s two more points at the corresponding stage last season and back then the Dons turned the year in 15th place. Wimbledon still have eighth-placed Exeter City to come at home on Sunday.
Optimism still abounds and seen-it-all Dannie Bulman said before the trip to Portsmouth that a tilt at the play-offs was still a possibility.
“Around Christmas time is when the league starts to sort itself out and if we can get a result on Boxing Day then maybe we can make a challenge for the play-off places,” he said. “We’re learning as a team. If we can keep players fit and add to the squad in January then we can kick on. I think there are exciting times ahead.”
That ebullience may only last until the next Exeter City game, but let’s carry it with us for a little bit longer. It’s Christmas, after all.
Portsmouth’s plight tends to put our gripes and whinges into context. Here’s a club that were in the Premier League five seasons ago, won the FA Cup six years ago and are now frustrated by their present predicament and yet still can draw a 17,000 crowd. Despite their size Pompey are three places behind the Dons on the L2 table.
And their fans are finding it tough going as one blogger bemoaned: “No-one expects Pompey to win every week in this dog-eat-dog division but these are the sort of games they need to do the business in if they’re to mount any sort of challenge for promotion in the second half of the season.”
And where have we heard this before? Awford post-game: “We need to be more consistent. That’s been our problem all season. We haven’t been consistent enough and that’s what we need to find. I think we all work hard at the moment but there is going to have to be more done.”
It’s Wimbledon second win over Portsmouth in two seasons, remembering that 4-0 spanking at Kingsmeadow in November 2013 with Andy Frampton getting a brace of goals.
On-loan midfielder Frankie Sutherland scored his first senior goal to put the Dons ahead in the ninth minute on Boxing Day. He latched onto a quickly taken free-kick from Callum Kennedy and cut inside from the left before producing a brilliant curler that found the top corner.
Tubbs made it 2-0 just eight minutes later picking up George Francomb’s quickly-taken free-kick to deliver a clinical finish that left Pompey goalkeeper Paul Jones with no chance. Even the Pompey chairman loved that one!!
James Shea again made some crucial saves to preserve the Dons advantage and Ade Azeez went close with a couple of chances late on to send the 968 travelling Dons fans home with a Boxing Day buzz.
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