Manager looks ahead to Plymouth tie
Neal Ardley says that AFC Wimbledon will be taking the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy very seriously – and he has challenged players in his squad to stake a claim for regular starting roles.
Competition rules will preclude Wimbledon or Plymouth from making wholesale changes tomorrow night, but Neal Ardley says there will be plenty of incentive for those players that do come into the starting line-up.
Entry will be just £10 for adults and Under-18s will be admitted free of charge for the game in a competition that offers the reward of a trip to Wembley for finalists.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “The players that do come in, whether that’s Will Nightingale, or Ade Azeez and Lyle Taylor after they came on as substitutes (on Saturday), are all trying to stake a claim. They are all trying to say ‘you can pick me and put me in for any game’. I feel like that about virtually all of my first-team squad. I can put any of them in and they will not let me down.
“We will try and be strong, but we want to try and give players a chance. Though we want to find out certain things, we want to win every game and it is a competition we want to do well in. Plymouth are a good team and they have proved that already this season. We want to do better than we did in the second half against Plymouth in the league. They will be strong too because you have to keep six players in from your last team anyway.”
The rules of the JPT state that six players who started the last league game must be retained or six players who have played the most amount of games in the current season. However, Neal Ardley did use the competition to provide full debuts for Ben Harrison and Tom Beere last season and the club enjoyed good success in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
An exciting run to the Southern Area quarter-final for Wimbledon involved victories against Southend United and Milton Keynes, before the Dons bowed out in gallant fashion at League 1 Champions Bristol City.
They were experiences that provided real highlights of last season’s campaign for Wimbledon and Neal would love to have another run in the competition.
“We have great memories from last season in it,” added Neal. “We had a great little run in the competition. If you get it right you have a chance against anyone in the two leagues. We showed that on our day last season, especially with that great victory against the team from up the M1. We also had the win against Southend after a penalty shoot-out.
“We went to Bristol City and they had hardly been beaten at the time, but tactically we used a shape that almost pulled it off for us. It was great for us to be involved with that. With a trip to Wembley at the end of it, the competition certainly provides the best chance for a club like us to get there.”
The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player.