Wally Downes urges AFC Wimbledon to pull off a ‘great escape’

Wally Downes has urged his AFC Wimbledon players to use their FA Cup heroics as a springboard to pull off the “great escape”.

The Dons made a mockery of their position at the bottom of League One as they dumped top-flight West Ham out in the fourth round.

Downes, a member of the original Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang in the 1980s, was brought back to the club as manager in December in a bid to turn around their fortunes.

Yet back-to-back heavy home defeats to Barnsley and Fleetwood left them eight points from safety, making Saturday evening’s 4-2 win all the more remarkable.

The Dons are now in the fifth round for the first time since they were reformed in 2002, and Downes hopes they can take the form they showed against the Hammers into the league.

“Will this start a good run? It’s got to,” Downes told talkSPORT. “There was a poor run before (I arrived), we managed to put a stop to that, battled and got some decent results.

Wally Downes
Wally Downes wants the FA Cup run to boost AFC Wimbledon’s league form (Daniel Hambury/PA)

“But the form has really got to pick up if we are going to make a fist of it now.

“This is a club that creates its own history every day, just by being around. If we can pull this off it will be in keeping with what this club is about, certainly what the old club was about.

“It’s the great escape I suppose, isn’t it?”

West Ham found themselves 3-0 down a minute into the second half after goals from Kwesi Appiah and two from Scott Wagstaff.

AFC Wimbledon v West Ham United – FA Cup – Fourth Round – Kingsmeadow
Scott Wagstaff scored twice for the Dons (Daniel Hambury/PA)

Substitutes Lucas Perez and Felipe Anderson raised hopes of a comeback, but they were extinguished when sub Toby Sibbick headed the fourth two minutes from time.

Wagstaff was reminded by BT Sport afterwards that he had promised to dye his hair, bushy beard and all, in the colours of Wimbledon blue and yellow if they won.

In true Crazy Gang style, Downes will be holding the former Charlton midfielder to his word.

“He made the mistake of saying it on national TV,” added Downes, “so unless he shaves it off he will be.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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