By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley expressed his satisfaction with the pre-season schedule after AFC Wimbledon geared up for the big kick-off with a victory at Ebbsfleet United.
Speaking after the 2-1 win in Kent yesterday, Neal said: "Other than the injuries we've got, we go into the week in a good place, ready for the first game. Though not playing the first game at Eastleigh put us a match short, we've managed to get the minutes into the boys. There have been loads of positives in there. Obviously, there has been some stuff that we've had to go away and say, 'we have to work on that'. You look forward to that first game, everyone builds towards it, and I am sure Scunthorpe have prepared really well for it.
"We know that it's going to be a really tough first game. They will be one of the favourites to go up. We need to have a good week, we have a plan of how we will go about it, and hopefully we will go there and give a good account of ourselves."
The picture above (taken by Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images) shows Barry Fuller receiving congratulations from team-mates after his opening goal at Ebbsfleet.
As dress rehearsals go, Neal added that the game yesterday provided ideal preparation for next Saturday's first game.
"They have got a lot of quality players after recruiting really well and I think they will do well in the league," said Neal. "They are big, strong, and they have a lot of league experience in there. I thought in the first-half that some of our football was excellent – we carved through them at times. We were often a finish away from ending good moves with a goal.
"In the second-half they pressed us high, putting us under more pressure, and it became a lot less controlled from us, but we managed to do what we needed to do. We had young lads out there and we had to deal with their set pieces and long throws, but we came through it and I am really happy. More importantly, we won. I am not one of those people who just says it is about getting minutes. It was our last game before the season and we needed it to be as competitive as possible. I thought it was the perfect game for us. We had to deal with everything they threw at us and at the same time, get control of the game. I thought we did that and we scored good goals."