Manager's interview ahead of FA Cup replay against Sutton
Neal Ardley says his squad will have to cope well with expectations tomorrow night and he has called on supporters to play their part as AFC Wimbledon seek a place in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round for the first time.
Following the 0-0 draw at Sutton United nine days ago, Neal is anticipating another tough game against Paul Doswell’s side and he says that supporters may need to show patience with the big incentive of a home tie against Leeds United for the winners.
“We have a lot of expectation on us and that can cause anxiety. My job is to make sure that is not there. The fans have to try not to carry any anxiety from the terraces onto the pitch. It’s not going to be a walkover, that’s for sure. It’s a game we are going to have to play well in. We are going to need our fans to drive us on and not be negative if it is not going to plan. In the last round it was not going to plan at Curzon and the away fans were fantastic. That helped us get to where we needed to be and over the line in the end. Hopefully, they can do the same again.
“It (the FA Cup) keeps the season alive and the FA Cup is big for the club. It would be nice to get to the end of this month still in the competition, but we obviously have to overcome that hurdle tomorrow night.”
Click on the link above to watch a clip of Neal’s Dons Player interview.
Local pride will once again be at stake tomorrow as the club where it all started for AFC Wimbledon back in 2002 aim to cause an upset and Neal is fully aware of the threat that Sutton present.
“I know the conditions of the pitch and stuff will be different, but they carry a lot of threat around the pitch,” added Neal. “They are good at set-pieces and they have players who can make a difference. We know ‘Tubbsy’, Roarie Deacon has done it in the past, and they have Craig Eastmond in midfield. We just have to focus on ourselves and make sure that our game is better than what it was in the first game. We have to make sure we do our jobs properly.
“It is not going to be easy, it is not going to be a walkover that people expect. It is the FA Cup and Millwall smashed Bournemouth in the last round. No one can think that AFC Wimbledon are immune to an upset. We have to make sure that does not happen and we are going to need everyone to be behind us in that.
“Everyone is talking about the tie locally. If I am down the shops or down the street, they are all excited about it. The fact that so many people want to come to the second game and it is likely to be a sell-out is fantastic. Sutton fans will still believe they can so what their dreams are going to be and we need to make sure we bring our A game.”
The full interview with Neal is on Dons Player and our premium channel also features Chris Whelpdale’s thoughts on being back in the squad after injury.