Skipper says his side can thrive on challenge at Ashton Gate
Captain Alan Bennett has urged his team-mates to thrive on the challenge of being underdogs in tonight’s JPT tie at Bristol City.
Bennett (pictured) played a part in Wimbledon’s resilient display at York on Saturday after replacing the injured Andy Frampton and he knows similar defensive qualities will be needed again tonight if the Dons are to cause an upset.
Taking on League One leaders City is a match that Bennett is relishing and there’s also the added incentive of coming up against former Cheltenham team-mate Marlon Pack.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Bennett said: “Bristol City are an all-out footballing team and we will need to stay tight and compact. We will be absolute underdogs, but we’ve got nothing to lose. We have to go there with true Wimbledon spirit and try and pull off a decent result. We did a lot of work yesterday so we’re fully prepared and know what to expect.
“So far we’ve done it the hard way in this competition. I’m really looking forward to this match and I hope we get good support because City are really focusing on this competition. They showed that on Saturday by resting a few players. I know that we can do the club proud.
“When I was at Cheltenham Town we had a bit of a rivalry with Bristol Rovers and I like Bristol as a city. Bristol City is a really big club and it will be good to play at Ashton Gate. Marlon Pack will probably be playing in central midfield and he’s a really good lad and a good player.
“In two years when I was at Cheltenham we nearly got promoted. We had a good group and I can see similarities here. It’s just about us building up a head of steam and putting a run together. You never know what can happen with cup competitions. They can provide a springboard to get momentum going into the league.”
Bennett has had a spell out of the side recently, but the defender says he’s in good shape after his substitute appearance at Bootham Crescent.
“The lads who have not really been involved are taking it to a different level of intensity in training,” Bennett added. “Those who don’t play do running after games with Jason Moriarty (Sports Scientist) and in terms of fitness there’s no problem. I’d missed a few games before Saturday, but I felt fine. It was unfortunate what happened to Andy Frampton and you wouldn’t wish that upon any fellow professional, but I’m sure he will come back strong again.
“Ashley Bayes (Goalkeeper Coach) says it’s the team that starts and the squad that finishes. That’s the kind of thing we’ve got going with players ready to step in when the manager needs them to.”
Meanwhile, Neal Ardley has paid tribute to the job that Steve Cotterill is doing as Bristol City manager and he recalled the days when they were both players at Wimbledon.
“He was as good as gold with me,” said Neal. “Steve would always speak to me on a Monday to ask how I’d got on for the youth team. He always took an interest. He had a troubled time in some ways because of injury problems, but when he did play he scored goals.
“Steve has gone away and studied hard and has become an excellent manager. He did a great job with some big clubs and he’s doing a great job now.”
The full interviews with Alan Bennett and Neal Ardley appeared on Dons Player yesterday.
WDON commentators Rob Cornell and Mikey T will be broadcasting live tonight from 7.45 pm at Ashton Gate.