Wimbledon struggling without ‘talisman’ Ali Al-Hamadi, admits Johnnie Jackson

By Sports Desk February 20, 2024

Johnnie Jackson admits AFC Wimbledon are struggling to adapt to life without “talisman” Ali Al-Hamadi as they slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Crawley.

Striker Al-Hamadi joined Ipswich last month and the Dons missed his killer instinct as they dominated for long periods against Crawley but passed up several chances.

The likes of Josh Davison and deadline-day signing Josh Kelly both had opportunities, with the former seeing what looked a simple tap-in kept out by a superb save from Crawley goalkeeper Corey Addai.

The hosts’ wastefulness was punished with 12 minutes to go as Danilo Orsi finished following a long throw, his 15th league goal of the season.

“Ali’s not here, I can’t keep talking about Ali,” said Jackson, whose side missed the chance to move into the top seven.

“For me, he was the best player in the league and we’ve lost him, so that doesn’t help. When you lose your talisman, it makes things more difficult.

“The group brought in a good player who’s doing really well for the team, just hasn’t scored yet, so people are obviously going to highlight that.”

Filling the void left by Al-Hamadi was always going to be a tough task, but Jackson knows he has another problems too.

The Dons suffered yet another defensive injury against Crawley, with Crystal Palace loanee Kofi Balmer forced off with a hamstring issue.

Jackson added: “Obviously, there’s a number of things that aren’t going great for us at the minute with the injuries, losing our two centre-halves, another one tonight.

“Our captain’s been out for a long time, so it’s not been easy in that regard.

“But we need to be better, everyone needs to be better, all of us, if we’re going to get where we want to get to.”

Crawley boss Scott Lindsey saw his side move two points off the play-off places, although there are nine teams within just three points of Harrogate in seventh.

Lindsey said: “We’ve just got to make sure that we focus on ourselves.

“We feel that last play-off spot, no one’s really taken charge of it. Everyone’s messing around with it and we’re going to really focus and try and take it.

“We know there’s a long way to go, but we’re going to really focus on that.”

Related items

  • Old Trafford regeneration task force meet for first time Old Trafford regeneration task force meet for first time

    Manchester United’s regeneration task force charged with exploring the redevelopment of Old Trafford has met for the first time.

    Lord Coe, chair of a group that also includes Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and former United captain Gary Neville, oversaw the meeting that took place on Monday.

    United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is looking to build a world-class stadium by either redeveloping Old Trafford or constructing a new ground on adjacent land owned by the Premier League club.

    “Yesterday, I chaired the first meeting of the Old Trafford regeneration task force to kick off a conversation about how development of a world-class football stadium for the north of England can deliver social and economic benefits for the region,” London 2012 chief Coe said on X.

    “At the London 2012 Olympics, I saw first-hand how sport can be a powerful driver of urban regeneration and I am excited to be part of this project.

    “This meeting marked the start of a multi-stakeholder process to explore options for the stadium and surrounding area. We are at the start of this journey, and it is too soon to know where it will lead.

    “But we will consult closely with fans and local residents along the way, and keep everyone informed of progress.”

    Ratcliffe has described the plans to build a new ground and regenerate the Old Trafford area as a “once-in-a-century opportunity”.

    With redevelopment of the existing site costing in the region of £1billion and building a new stadium altogether requiring a £2billion outlay, the task force will also examine options for financing the project.

  • Jude Bellingham demands more anti-racism measures but ‘doubts’ it will happen Jude Bellingham demands more anti-racism measures but ‘doubts’ it will happen

    Jude Bellingham has demanded football’s authorities – particularly in Spain – do more to combat racism but admitted: “I doubt that will happen.”

    The England midfielder’s call came after his Real Madrid team-mate Aurelien Tchouameni was racially abused by a Mallorca supporter after scoring last weekend.

    It is the latest of a number of incidents in Spanish football, with another Real player in Vinicius Jr having been a regular victim of offensive chanting and gestures.

    Bellingham, speaking to media ahead of Real’s Champions League clash with Manchester City on Wednesday, said: “I think in the games where we go away, in La Liga especially, you almost get so used to it that I wasn’t even aware of the (Tchouameni) incident. I think that’s a massive problem in itself.

    “More has got to be done, whether it’s the punishment and how you react to it or how you move proactively to (stop) this kind of thing.

    “I think it’s a horrible way for a player to prepare for a game, knowing that they’re probably going to get racially abused. It’s disgusting. It shouldn’t happen.

    “The people in power need to do more. No-one deserves that kind of thing.

    “It’s definitely a call-out for the people who are in charge to take control. I doubt that will happen.

    “It’s going to be something that I imagine we will still have to just deal with going into games. You have just got to play your game and hope that the people look after you, and they’re not doing it well enough at the moment.”

    Vinicius broke down in tears at a press conference as he discussed his experiences of racism ahead of Brazil’s recent friendly against Spain in Madrid.

    Bellingham expressed sympathy for his colleague.

    He said: “I think the blame gets shifted more onto him because of maybe his playing style and the way he likes to express himself and I don’t think that’s fair.

    “The game would miss players like Vini if he decided to take a break because of this thing. More needs to be done to support these players.”

  • I owe everything to him – Trent Alexander-Arnold grateful to Jurgen Klopp I owe everything to him – Trent Alexander-Arnold grateful to Jurgen Klopp

    Trent Alexander-Arnold says he owes everything to Jurgen Klopp and believes the Liverpool manager’s impending departure could feed into the title-race drama.

    Reigning champions Manchester City sit top of the Premier League pile with six matches remaining after second-placed Arsenal and the third-spotted Reds suffered shock defeats on Sunday.

    Liverpool’s 1-0 home loss to Crystal Palace compounded Thursday’s 3-0 Europa League quarter-final defeat at the hands of Atalanta in what could prove Klopp’s final European night at Anfield.

    Alexander-Arnold made his return from two months out with a knee injury in the Eagles encounter and expects more “twists and turns” as the popular German’s final season in charge comes to an end.

    “I think experience is a massive part of it,” the Liverpool academy product told The Overlap podcast.

    “Obviously the other two teams will have experience from last season. They had their own title race within themselves.”

    Asked if Klopp leaving and the emotion around gives Liverpool an edge in the run-in, Alexander-Arnold said: “I think he will feed into that, the further it goes.

    “Let’s say we get into May, the start of May, and it’s still that tight, then he’ll start to feed into how it’s going to look, how it could feel. Up until then, we just need to try and stay (composed).

    “He never says, ‘We’re trying to win the league, we’re going to win the league’.

    “He doesn’t really speak about it. It’s more, ‘We’re going to get the most out of ourselves, we’re going to squeeze every drop of potential’.

    “There will be twists and turns, no matter what.”

    Liverpool are hoping for an almighty change in fortunes at Atalanta on Thursday, when the second leg could see Alexander-Arnold make his first start since February 10.

    Every one of his appearances for his boyhood club have come under Klopp, to whom the homegrown star is eternally grateful.

    “Incredible, really,” Alexander-Arnold said. “I owe everything to him, really, as a player.

    “I was thinking about this recently. The only thing you can ever ask for as a young player is opportunity.

    “All you can do is hope that when you get to 18, 19, you’ve got a manager that’s willing to give you a chance and I was fortunate enough to have that.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Trent Alexander-Arnold (@trentarnold66)

    “Not only that, he put his arm round me and guided me through it, through the ups and downs, the winning of stuff, losing things.

    “Good games, bad games, because your first bad game you think you’re never going to kick a ball again. You think, ‘I’m done’.”

    Alexander-Arnold is expecting it to feel “weird” returning to pre-season without Klopp, although he likes the idea of a “new challenge” under an as yet undetermined new boss.

    The 25-year-old will likely return late to Liverpool given England are among the favourites for Euro 2024, at which Gareth Southgate has a midfield role in mind for him.

    Asked whether he sees himself as a midfielder or a right-back, Alexander-Arnold said: “I’d probably say I still see myself as a right-back.

    “I see myself as someone who can probably play in both positions if needed.

    “But I think my focus, until I’m told otherwise by the gaffer, is that I’m still a right-back.

    “I come inside and I play inside when we have the got ball, but essentially, when you write the team-sheet, I am a right-back.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.