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Focus on: AFC Wimbledon

6 June 2016

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The Wombles beat Plymouth Argyle in the Play-Off final

Name: AFC Wimbledon
Founded: 2002
Stadium: Kingsmeadow
Capacity: 4,850
Manager: Neal Ardley
Last season: Seventh in League Two (Promoted via the Play-Offs)

After gaining seven promotions in 12 years, AFC Wimbledon will compete in the third-tier for the first time in their history come the start of August.

The Dons achieved a historic feat under the Wembley arch via the Play-Off Final in May, when they defeated Plymouth Argyle 2-0 courtesy of goals from Lyle Taylor and Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Following their rise up to the third division of English professional football, the Kingston upon Thames based outfit will be keen to stabilise themselves in a higher tier, under long-serving manager Neal Ardley.

As a player, Epson born Ardley began his career at the old Wimbledon in 1991, making 245 senior appearances as well as scoring 18 goals for the Wombles, before departing for Watford and Vicarage Road 11 years later.

The midfielder spent three-years in Hertfordshire, turning out on 111 occasions for Watford, and in that time he helped the Hornets to FA and League Cup semi-finals.

Ardley spent the 2005/2006 season with Cardiff City, where he played 38 games, but ended his 16-year stay in professional football in England’s capital with Millwall in 2007, after 415 professional matches.

Following retirement, he was appointed Cardiff’s U18s squad manager in August 2007, a role that he remained in for the next five-years.

On 10th October 2012, Ardley became AFC Wimbledon manager, replacing Terry Brown in the dugout. He managed to preserve the club’s Football League status on the final day of that season, beating the Cod Army on home soil.

The Club have continued to go from strength to strength, culminating in the team gaining the last Play-Off place last season, and subsequently achieving an historic promotion to Football League One for the 2016/17 campaign.

AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood Town have met four times, with Ardley’s side coming out on top twice against the men from the Fylde Coast, with the other two games ending draws.

Town last played AFC Wimbledon at Highbury Stadium on 1st March 2014, in a game which finished goalless.

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