Manager looks to step up preparations ahead of Margate
Neal Ardley was disappointed with the 4-3 defeat at Dover last night after the Dons opening pre-season friendly and is looking to step up preparations on Saturday.
“I’m not going to say it was a nice run out,” said the AFC Wimbledon manager, whose side return to Kent at the weekend to face Margate. “I think we’ll all be a bit annoyed about how we lost that game and we’re not going to dress it up.”
“Obviously we got some fitness from it, but I thought we weren’t great with the ball in the first half, but found ourselves one-nil up. In the second half we were much better with the ball and really poor without it. We accept mistakes, but most of our problems in the second half were from set pieces and players not doing the jobs they were told to do. We’re disappointed with that as that’s got nothing to do with fitness, so I’m not going to say I’m happy with a run out but I am going to say we’re disappointed we lost a game of football because I don’t care if it’s pre-season or not we aim to win.”
“We’ve learnt a few things about the group and we need to push on and try and increase their minutes and start getting that momentum and team ethic and seeing jobs through like we did in the second half of last season and we need to start making those habits and that will be the focus now,” added Neal in an interview to Dons Player.
“We’ve got a short pre-season and maybe we need to get the minutes up for some of the more senior players and that’s what we’ll try to do in the next game. We were all about 45 minutes each for them at Dover, but we’ll try to push that to sixty on Saturday.”
Our photo shows Tom Elliott, who opened the scoring from the penalty spot, battling for the ball at Dover (Photo credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images).
Neal also provided an update on new signing Dean Parrett. The midfielder had to come off with twenty minutes remaining after going down in the centre circle with a Dover player.
“He’s split under his eye. He’s got quite a bad, deep cut so he’s had to have stitches in that and Dean has had a bit of a chequered pre-season. He had to miss last Tuesday due to a family matter, which is perfectly fine as family comes first, but obviously he’s behind the lads on his minutes through no fault of his own. We need to put a programme in place for Dean to get him up to speed and be that talented player we know we’ve signed.”
“I was really pleased with Chris Whelpdale,” said the manager of his other summer recruit from Stevenage. “I thought Whelps was excellent.”
Left-back Aaron Greene made an appearance in the Dons defence last night as a second half trialist.
“Simon Bassey watched him a few times when he was at Brentford,” explained Neal. “He had a bad injury last season and it’s a position we’re looking at, so we just thought we’d have him in for ten days training and have a look at him in the game and make a judgement call.”
The Wimbledon boss is hopeful of having centre-back Darius Charles back in contention soon, but feels that George Francomb is unlikely to figure in the season opener at Walsall on August 6.
“Darius hopefully won’t be too long. He landed awkwardly and the top of his knee was sore, so we’ve had to give him a couple of days and let that settle down. George is a little bit behind. We were hoping that he’d be back in pre-season, but the knee is not quite going, so he’s had to have a couple of small injections in there to bring it along.”
“I’d be surprised if George is going to be ready for the first game now. He’s already fallen behind having had a fair few weeks off at the end of last season and over the summer, so we’ll get George back so that he’s fully fit and back in the squad midway through August if we can.”
The full after match interview with Neal Ardley, including an update on his search for two more players, is now available to Dons Player subscribers.