In-depth preview as a familiar face returns to the club
AFC Wimbledon look to put last week’s disappointing result at Port Vale behind them tomorrow, with a big crowd again expected at The Cherry Red Records Stadium for the visit of play-off chasing Bristol Rovers.
Neal Ardley’s side are now concentrating on finishing as high as possible in Sky Bet League One, but face a Bristol Rovers team looking to find end-of-season consistency which could lead to another promotion under manager Darrell Clarke.
Rovers did have Kelle Roos on loan to them earlier in the season from Derby County. The Dutchman was, of course, in goal for the Dons at Wembley last May for the League Two Play-Off final victory over Plymouth.
Centre-back Ryan Sweeney was an unused substitute that day and left the Dons at the start of the season for Stoke City. The Academy gradate is expected to figure against many familiar faces this weekend having established himself in the visitors back line.
“The best way to get performance data is to watch the game back with your staff and look for all the things you know make you a good team and you know on a certain day let you down. To play well consistently at this level you have to do so many things and you would say that 85 per-cent of them are the so-called, non-negotiable givens that have to be there every week and then there is 15 per-cent down to if you take your chances or a slip-up here or there.
“We certainly let ourselves down on 15 to 20 per-cent of our stuff on Saturday (against Port Vale) and no matter how much you look the better team – which I thought we did for spells – we lost the game 2-0 and we didn’t do enough good stuff.”
“Last week I knew that 54 points safety net was going to be hanging over us, have we got the pride to keep churning out performances and we let ourselves down. You are a long time on holiday and we’ve got three and a half weeks and five games and let’s not finish where the season ends up on a bit of a lull. Certainly training this week hasn’t showed me that’s the case, we haven’t allowed it to and hopefully we’ll get that response over the coming weeks.
“I’m such a big fan of Darrell (Clarke). A few seasons ago he got hung out to dry a little bit, right at the end when they didn’t stay up and got a lot of the flack in the early part of the following season. To then go and get back-to-back promotions and create a team that has got an impressive home record in the league, very attacking and don’t sit back, got some great players in there – I can’t speak highly enough of the guy as he has done a wonderful job.
“Every time we’ve been to there place, they’ve given us a real going over, so we’ve got to try and return the compliment on Saturday. It won’t be easy as out of all the teams that came up they’ve done the best so far. I think it will be a good end-to-end game as they won’t sit back and come here for a point. They’ll go for the win and so will we.”
“It’s great to see Ryan Sweeney do so well. He went in at Stoke and it’s obviously tough at first what with Premier League quality. I think Stoke intended for him to go out on loan and it’s great that he’s gone out and playing in League One regularly and, from what I’ve heard, he has done really well and added a real dimension to Bristol’s defence.
“He’ll get a warm welcome. He was a good lad and he’ll certainly get a warm welcome from all the staff and players here. I hope he doesn’t play very well! It’ll certainly be good to see him though.”
“Certainly with any Wimbledon team you know you are in for a game – that’s for sure! Neal Ardley has done a fantastic job there. They’ve re-built themselves and I’m sure, like ourselves, they are looking over five games to go in a really positive position having just come up like we have. It’ll be a tough game, it always is.”
“It’s not going to be easy. They are a good side and they are chasing a play-off place. They are going to come here with a clear aim and we’ve got to do what we can do and negate them and win the game.”
A clip of Lyle’s interview is available by clicking on the link above to our official YouTube channel.
9. Bristol Rovers – 60 points
13. AFC Wimbledon – 54 points
Form guide (last six)
AFC Wimbledon - LWLDWL
Bristol Rovers - WLWLWW
Last time out
Port Vale 2-0 AFC Wimbledon
Bristol Rovers 2-0 Shrewsbury Town
Bristol Rovers 2-0 AFC Wimbledon (31 December 2016)
to gain access to match coverage and full interviews with Neal Ardley and Lyle Taylor ahead of the game. Dons Player HDFor those who cannot attend, our Dons Player HD channel is the best place to keep in touch with events at the game. Our WDON team have been providing coverage of the club virtually since AFC Wimbledon reformed. Visit