AFC Wimbledon's resolve will tomorrow be tested by a familiar foe aiming to revitalise regular promotion challengers, but Neal Ardley is eager to concentrate on the talents of his own players.
Stuart McCall, who came up against Wimbledon on several occasions as Bradford City boss, will take charge of his first away game as Scunthorpe United manager after an eventful first match in charge last Saturday. In contrast to Wimbledon's impressive clean sheet in victory at Gillingham, The Iron conceded three against Rochdale in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Glanford Park.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus stats, ahead of tomorrow's game.
"Obviously, they've lost a manager earlier in the season and Stuart has come in. He will want to get his own ideas across. They are a big club and they've always put a lot of work into trying to get into the play-offs. They are a team that expect to be in the top half of League One, so we are facing a tough challenge. There are no easy games in this league, we know that, but we are at home, and we've managed to stop the rot a little bit with the 1-0 win last week. We want to try and build some momentum.
"Stuart has shown that he is a good manager. You go back to the Bradford team that got to the play-offs and they were beaten by Millwall in the final. Last season they just had that run where they could not get out of a rut and unfortunately he lost his job. Stuart obviously showed that he knows what he's doing and he will get this Scunthorpe team at it, of that I'm sure. They are very strong and they've been strong from set pieces lately, so we have to be mindful of that.
"They have loads of threats, but I could go through every team and find things that would cause us problems. What I would rather do is, and what we've tried to focus on this year, is solely on us and how we play. We try to be brilliant at being us and if we can do that we believe we can give every team a game."
"It's a difficult place to go, but we need to make sure from that first whistle to the end that we're right up for it. We had an hour-long meeting on Tuesday morning just to go through certain things. Obviously, we conceded three goals but I just think we've been a little bit easy to play against all season. Not only did Rochdale get three goals, but they had a couple of other really good chances. We were unfortunate with a couple of deflections but we can generally defend a lot better. We were quite strong aerially when it came to balls into the box, but it was the little second balls and when they're playing in and around the box where we need to improve.
"We have to be better in possession going forward. We were penned in, and you will be against Rochdale when they launch balls forward to (Aaron) Wilbraham. Once it lands, we need to show more composure and courage. We brought a lot of pressure on ourselves and went too deep, which I think is a psychological thing because we hadn't won here this season, and were then 2-0 up against Barnsley before being pegged back.
"I'm a coach who looks at how we can win games, rather than not getting beaten, so as much as we've been doing the defensive side of it, we've also been working in the attacking third as well. In the first-half last week, we were okay, but I think there's much more to come from us. I want us to have far more possession and create more opportunities. We have to get down to Wimbledon, tackle, head, battle and do whatever it takes to keep a clean sheet and then have that quality going the other way."
Neal Ardley was set to check on the fitness of Tom Soares (hamstring), Scott Wagstaff (calf) and James Hanson (calf) before picking a squad for tomorrow. For Scunthorpe, Matthew Lund and Lee Novak have shrugged off knocks, but Jordan Clarke and Rory McArdle are both doubtful.
Last time out
Gillingham 0-1 AFC Wimbledon
Scunthorpe 3-3 Rochdale
Form guide (last six in all competitions, starting with most recent)
AFC Wimbledon WDLLLL
Scunthorpe United DDDDLL
Last meeting (Saturday 7 April 2018)
AFC Wimbledon 1 (Nightingale 4)
Scunthorpe United 1 (Novak 84)
Click on the link below to watch highlights from that game.
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