Thursday, April 25, 2024

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

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Feb 2024

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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.”

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