Defender on why he joined Wimbledon
Alan Bennett took advice from former Dons play-off hero Kaid Mohamed before he decided to make the switch to AFC Wimbledon from Cheltenham Town.
Experienced centre-back Bennett, who has helped Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers to League 2 promotions in the past, said that Cheltenham striker Mohamed made the prospect of joining Wimbledon sound appealing even though he is used to battling at the other end of the table.
Though Bennett’s debut did not go to plan last night as the Dons were beaten 3-0 at Port Vale, Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley expects Alan to be a key addition during the club’s survival battle.
Bennett had his contract at Cheltenham cancelled just minutes before last Thursday’s transfer deadline so that he could sign for Wimbledon the next day. Here’s what Bennett had to say to WDON commentator Rob Cornell about making the move to Wimbledon.
It’s a warm welcome to AFC Wimbledon for Alan Bennett. If you can start by telling us how this move came about?
It was all a bit last minute. Mark Yates spoke to me and told me that Wimbledon were interested and it all went from there. It went right up until the final minutes before the deadline, I suppose that it was a bit exciting really, but I am just happy to be here. I spoke to Neal Ardley twice last week and his energy and enthusiasm really came across to me. He is so determined to keep the club up and he really sold the idea to me.
Was you involved in the match last season when Wimbledon won 4-1 and did that give you a taste of what the club was all about?
I played in that match, but I was suspended and sat in the stands watching when Cheltenham won at Wimbledon earlier this season. I spoke to Kaid Mohamed about Wimbledon before I left Cheltenham and he only had great things to say about the club. He said that he really enjoyed his time at the club so that made it easier for me to make the switch.
On 2 March you make a speedy return back to your old club Cheltenham Town. Is that a match you are already looking forward to?
I had really great times at Cheltenham Town and I had a good rapport with the club’s fans. I will enjoy going back there on 2 March, but there are a lot of games to play before then and we need to pick up points.
Neal Ardley wanted to bring experienced heads like yourself and Gary Alexander into the squad for the club’s survival battle. Is this a responsibility that you will relish?
It is my fourth season in this league. I have been promoted, won the League 2 title, and been part of a side beaten in the final. I know what is required in this league and what goes on in it. Every time that I have previously played against Wimbledon, the team has had good quality in its style of play. We have tough games coming up, but hopefully we can get some momentum going and survive this season.
It is a different kind of challenge then with the current Wimbledon side fighting for survival. What do you think will be the key to survival?
We are in a mini league near the bottom in a way and we have to take as many points as we can when we play against the teams around us. The team had a great January in remaining unbeaten, which is a good run of form for anyone. Hopefully, things can come together for us and we have 17 games to get it right and survive this season.