Neal Ardley on tomorrow's match
Neal Ardley said that Saturday’s opponents Shrewsbury share the difficult task of punching above their weight in League One and he is expecting a tough battle tomorrow.
Just over two years ago, Micky Mellon’s first game as Shrews manager ended in an exciting 2-2 draw against the Dons at the start of a season that ended in promotion. With Wimbledon having since been promoted to League One, both clubs are seeking to establish themselves at the higher level.
For Wimbledon, Jake Reeves was due to be assessed after suffering with illness earlier in the week. George Francomb is ruled out with a facial injury suffered against Charlton. Chris Robertson is pushing for inclusion after an “exceptional” performance for the development squad in midweek.
Shrewsbury will have Ivan Toney and Joe Riley back in the frame after injury. Captain Adam El-Abd also returns after suspension.
: “In that season (2014/15) it felt like Shrewsbury really went for it and they had one of the best teams. They have had a little bit of a turnover in players since. A few have gone out and they have gone down a slightly different route. We are now both in a league in which neither of us can be classed as a big club or one of the favourites to go up.Neal Ardley
“We are both down in that bottom third of the league. I think some of their performances have probably deserved more, but that is the league. Both of us have got a tough task – especially ourselves – in what is probably the strongest League One for a while.
“Even early last season when we were mid-table, we felt that we were one of the best six or seven teams in the league. Our performances were showing us that, even though we had to iron out a few things. This season we have to look at each game and each opponent. When you watch them play you think, ‘well, they are decent’. Most teams pass the ball better and have better players.
“We have to go in with a realistic attitude that we have to be competitive. In the Charlton game we were not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. We had to stay in there and our character and fitness told in the end. Sometimes you have to win in different ways and that’s what we might have to do on Saturday.
“Micky Mellon’s teams are always footballing sides. He likes to get the ball down and play. This season Shrewsbury have mixed up their systems, but more than anything they still try to get it down and pop the ball around the pitch. If our shape and one on one defending is not good, they will cause us problems. We have to focus on being good at what we do and it’s going to be about those fine margins. We had only two attempts on goal last Saturday, but we took them both, and long may that continue.”
“We all know how they rebirthed the club. We rolled side by side with them when I was at Fleetwood for a good few years.
“They’ve done terrific to get themselves back to this stage in League One, so fair play to them. They are a good club, got a good manager and good people there, so we know that we’ve got a tough challenge. But, if we get the things right that we’re good at, we will pose them a lot of problems.
“It’s going to be a good game. A good old fashioned English League game of football with both teams desperate for a win, so we are looking forward to it. We believe that we can go anywhere, home or away, and get results.
“We are set up in order to try and do that. The lads are encouraged to think like that and we expect them to be like that. We know the threats that Wimbledon will pose for us. We know what they’re good at. We know we will have to be good to counter that.
“And then, on the other side of things, we have to do the things we know that we do well and we are capable of on the day, and go and try and win a game of football.”
FORM GUIDE (Last 6 in league, starting with most recent)
AFC Wimbledon WLWDDL
LAST TIME OUT
Charlton Athletic 1 AFC Wimbledon 2
Shrewsbury 0 Scunthorpe United 1
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