Neal calls for home improvement
Neal Ardley believes that signing Darren Jones has lifted spirits and he has called on his players to rise to the challenge of turning around their home form against Exeter City tomorrow.
The Dons have failed to earn a home victory since that impressive 4-0 win against Portsmouth on 16 November and the Wimbledon manager says that has to change quickly.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neal said: “We need to try and turnaround our home form and get that back to where it was at the start of this season. We have focused on that all this week. I am looking forward to it and we have to turn the good point that we got at Scunthorpe into four points by 5.00 pm on Saturday. Then we can look forward to the rest of the week.
“We have a busy spell coming up with two games at home and one away. We have to make sure that we get the squad through the week as physically strong as we can. There are a couple of players with niggles and we will assess those, but Darren will definitely go straight into the squad. Losing Andy Frampton was a massive blow and we were all very down about that, but to bring a player of Darren’s quality in lightens the mood a little. I am adamant that he will do a fantastic job for us.”
Jones told Dons Player that he’s certainly ready for his debut tomorrow if he’s thrown straight into the battle against Exeter City.
“I’ve not played for a few weeks, but I’ve been training every day so it’s not a problem,” said the defender. “If I’m selected I cannot wait to go out and express myself and do well for the club. The hard work starts on the training ground and we have to take that into matches to get the results that we want.”
Exeter visit The Cherry Red Records Stadium in a worse position in League 2 than when they last made the trip nine months ago. The Grecians were pushing for a play-off spot at that stage, but they had to settle for a 2-2 draw against a Wimbledon side desperately battling for survival.
Though Exeter are one place below Wimbledon in the table, Neal has huge respect for Paul Tisdale, who is the longest-serving manager in the Football League, and the club itself.
“It was two teams last season really going for it when they came here,” recalled Neal. “They were trying to get into the play-offs and we were desperate for the win so that made it a very good game. Paul Tisdale has done a great job overall and Exeter are a fans-run club like ourselves. Exeter have had a similar season to us so far. They have been playing reasonably well in games, but have not been picking up the results that they would like.”