Neal Ardley has called for his squad to start rewarding fans for their support by replicating the performance levels shown in the second-half against Portsmouth on a regular basis.
Wimbledon tomorrow face a Blackpool side beaten only once in the league so far this season, but the Dons did run league leaders Portsmouth close on Saturday after a difficult first-half on home turf.
The fixture at Bloomfield Road will be Blackpool’s first League One match for two weeks with the Tangerine Army having had an away game at Sunderland postponed due to international call-ups for their scheduled opponents.
It was honours even last season between the two clubs with Blackpool triumphing 1-0 last September, before a 2-0 victory for the Dons at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus a recap of those previous matches, and stats:
“The players represent the fans and that’s what hurts the most. Rightly so, the fans were not happy at half-time on Saturday. Players have to go out and show that they care, run like they care, fight like they care, and then show their footballing ability within that. They didn’t do it in the first-half on Saturday, they did do it in abundance in the second-half and that’s what they have to do. They have to do it for those that do make the journey on Saturday, for those that travel midweek, and for those that come to our home games. We’ve got to give that to them. That’s something I’m going to try and create from now on in.
“I know in football that when you’ve lost the amount of games we’ve lost you should expect people to be unhappy and disappointed. When you are putting in performances like the other day they have a right to be disappointed. I’m disappointed and the fans I know will continue to support the players, that’s all I can ask for. I know they will have favourite players they think should play and others they think shouldn’t - that’s part and parcel of football - but they need to support whatever team goes out there on Saturday, get behind them. Hopefully the players will respond to that and between the players and the fans we can turn this around.
“They (Blackpool) have got good players, last season they massively over-achieved. The second season in this league can be tough, but they’ve gone the same way about it. If you lose just one game so far then you are doing something right. They are very strong at the back and there was a lot of interest in Curtis Tilt, but he’s back playing for them now. He has done great for them and they have threats all over the pitch. I cannot worry about the opposition at the moment. I will show them the utmost respect because they deserve it, but you have to get your own team right and that’s been my focus all week.”
“The Gillingham and Sunderland games got called off and you can’t do anything about it. You just get on with it and play those games when we are told to. We just carry on, keep playing and do as well as we can. There are loads of games coming up, so I think the squad is going to be well used. We now just want to go on another run of winning games.
“We should have more points in the league, but we haven’t. We our kicking ourselves for that and only we can do something about it. That’s what we will attempt to do in the next two home games. Even if we had turned three of those draws into wins we would have six more points and be right up there with a couple of games in hand. We’d rather have six points on the board than the two games in hand but you just get given it, don’t you?
“We’ve used the break to get some rest and recovery. It has been good to give them a couple of days off. We’ve since had a full week’s training and the boys have looked really sharp and hungry, very competitive, so it’s an exciting time ahead now. The lads are really on the front foot and raring to go. They are looking forward to the game and the competition for places is immense.
“They (Wimbledon) are competitive and they like to chuck it in the box. They’ve got some big lads. “They’ve not been on their best run either but this league shows that any team can beat anyone at any time and give anyone a game. We know they’ve got a good budget and some good players. But if we play well we’ll have a good chance and if we don’t then anything can happen.
“They had a bright start but that’s this league, isn’t it? A few wins on the bounce will get them right up there again. They’ve got a good manager and they’ve definitely got some good players. They play 4-4-2 normally, they have a go, and they chuck it in the box. They ask questions and we’ll have to be ready for that. On the other side, there are ways we can get the better of them so we’ll see if the training and the work we have done this week will come to fruition.”
Neal Ardley is hopeful that Scott Wagstaff will be ready to make a return after a hamstring injury. However, Andy Barcham (calf) is doubtful, Anthony Wordsworth (Achilles) will miss out, and Neal will also check on Joe Pigott and Tyler Garratt. Blackpool will welcome back Jordan Thompson after international duty with Northern Ireland Under-21s. Harry Pritchard and Chris Taylor are both back in contention after returning to full injury.
AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Blackpool (20 January 2018)
Blackpool 1-0 AFC Wimbledon (2 September 2017)
The first meeting last season between the two teams ended with a narrow victory for Blackpool, thanks to a 52nd minute winner from Sean Longstaff, who was on loan from Newcastle United at the time. The goal came just three minutes before a vital incident in the match with Jimmy Abdou red-carded and Wimbledon were unable to find a way back into the game after that. It was a completely different story in the home game with Liam Trotter opening the scoring just after the break and a debut goal from Joe Pigott sealed victory. Click on the link below for match highlights.
Last time out (league):
Blackpool 2-2 Rochdale
AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Portsmouth
This is not an all-ticket game, so tickets can be purchased on the day (cash only) from the kiosk by the away end.
Seated tickets for this away trip are priced at:
£18 (Over 60)
£10 (Under 18)
Dons fans will be accommodated in the all-seated Mortensen North Stand.
Any tickets purchased after Tuesday 16 October will be available for collection on Saturday at Bloomfield Road.