AFC Wimbledon will be aiming to upset the form book against League One leaders Portsmouth on Saturday and Neal Ardley said his squad must have belief that they can do it.
Kenny Jackett's table-toppers visit the Cherry Red Records Stadium having lost just once in the league this season, though that did come last weekend with a surprise home defeat against Gillingham.
It's almost five years since a memorable Dons victory against Portsmouth – a 4-0 win back in November 2013 – but Pompey did win both league matches between the two clubs last season. Wimbledon triumphed 2-1 in the previous meeting in the Carabao Cup and the picture above shows Joe Pigott receiving congratulations from James Hanson after his equaliser.
Below are quotes from both managers, stats, and other key information:
"We can probably control 90 per cent of it as far as our belief in what we're trying to do and our mentality towards the performances that we put in during early season. Obviously, there is that 10 per cent that results will bring, that little buzz and taking the pressure off. That will come with results. We are trying to address that. At the moment, we are doing a lot of things right between the boxes, but we haven't done things right in the boxes. We have to keep believing that we will cut out the errors, that we will switch on, and we won't concede poor goals, like we did on Saturday, and we will take our chances when they come. Those margins can soon turn momentum your way.
"As a manager you have to try and take the pressure off the players, let them enjoy it and give them the composure they will need in those situations. You have to train it, make sure that they practice. You have to keep believing in them and making sure that they believe in themselves. That's all you can do. When the time comes on the pitch you get them in the right areas, you make sure the team gets the chances, which we've certainly had loads of, and then confidence and momentum can carry on. We hope it's around the corner and if it is then hopefully we can go on a run.
"It's something this club has been built on, playing against good teams. We've had a contrast last week in playing against bottom of the league. We put in a good performance, but we didn't win. Now we're at home against top of the league and so far at home we've only had the one win. We're disappointed with that as we feel we've deserved more."
"They (Wimbledon) will be very positive on Saturday and there might be a derby feeling, with our allocation sold out at a tight ground. Both clubs will be well backed and that will contribute to a great atmosphere – I'm sure it will be competitive.
"You have to work hard for every point you get in this division and I have no doubt that it will be exactly the same this weekend. We have had two very good performances at home against Oxford and Plymouth, and I always think that home form is easier to get right than away form.
"We've shown discipline and character on the road and we always set up in an attempt to win the game, wherever we're playing. It was a frustrating afternoon for us against Gillingham last week because we were in control, but didn't turn our possession into shots. But we were pleased with Tuesday night at Crawley night – winning is winning and you want to experience it as much as you can. There's no doubt, though, that the league is our priority and it's a big game for us on Saturday. I'm confident we'll have the right attitude."
James Hanson is back in contention for a return after shaking off a hamstring injury. Though Terell Thomas has returned to full training after a knee injury, Saturday is likely to come too soon for him to make the squad. Portsmouth will be without the injured loan duo of Andre Green and David Wheeler. Ronan Curtis is away on international duty with the Irish squad.
Last time out
Plymouth 1-0 AFC Wimbledon
Crawley 0-1 Portsmouth (Checkatrade Trophy)
Portsmouth 1-2 (14 August 2018)
The Dons came from behind to earn a dramatic Carabao Cup victory. Christian Burgess nodded Pompey in front early in the second-half, but Joe Pigott equalised and Wimbledon won it just before a penalty shoot-out was required, thanks to an own goal from Anton Walkes.
Portsmouth 2-1 AFC Wimbledon (26 December 2017)
Ben Close opened the scoring in this Boxing Day clash, but Lyle Taylor appeared to have earned a point for the Dons by making no mistake from the penalty spot. However, Barry Fuller was adjudged to have fouled in the box and Brett Pitman struck from 12 yards to win it for Portsmouth.
A memorable blast from the past
On 16 November 2013 – just seven months after that dramatic final-day survival against Fleetwood – Wimbledon had a victory to savour. A double from Andy Frampton and goals from Sammy Moore and Michael Smith earned a 4-0 win against Pompey. Take a look at the highlights from that game by clicking on the link below.
AFC Wimbledon - LLWLLL
Portsmouth – WLWWDW
This match is all-ticket, but you can still buy terrace tickets until 11.00 am on Saturday. You must have a previous purchase history to buy a ticket for the game. See our Match Details article for more information about tickets.