By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley has called on his squad for one big final push to accumulate the points required to keep AFC Wimbledon in League One for another season.
Wimbledon tomorrow face the ultimate test at league leaders Wigan Athletic, who are vying with Blackburn to win the title. However, Wimbledon have a favourable record against the better teams in League One this season with previous victories against Blackburn, Rotherham, and Charlton – all sides in the current top-six.
And just over five years ago, Wimbledon earned a vital point at Gillingham in similar circumstances. Gills ended the day as League 2 Champions, but only after surviving a thrilling Dons fightback in a 2-2 draw at Priestfield Stadium with Neal Ardley's men securing a vital point in the battle to stay up.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus stats, and other key information, ahead of the game:
"Paul Cook has got his style of play and he's had it for the last four or five years with unbelievable success. They don't just cause you one problem, they will cause you two, three or four problems. Whether that's from the full-backs, their number 10, centre forwards, or central midfielders, they've got loads of good players on the pitch.
"We are under no illusions, we have to bring our A game, and we have to perform really well with and without the ball. Even then the margins might go against us, but we are ready for it. We will be up for it, it's a big week for us as a club. We cannot afford to try and plan games, we just have one more week to go as hard as we can. Don't leave anything short, leave everything out on the pitch, and see what happens.
"As a team, we were disappointed with our performance on Saturday. I thought a bit of nerves played a part. In the second-half we looked not quite as confident as we had been, but we dug in. We got our noses in front and defended like we had to. Those are all good signs. We are looking forward to it, we are looking forward to this week. Some things are in your control, but some things are out of your control. All we can do is try to perform high for the three games, no resting of any players or any of that kind of stuff, we will just go as hard as we can. By next Saturday, it is over and we can have all the rest that we need then."
"We look forward to Saturday, we'll have a bumper crowd watching and it is a chance for us all to celebrate our promotion with our own fans. Wimbledon are a good side, Neal has done an amazing job there and it will be a difficult game.
"We'll try and get more rest into the lads now, they've had some unreal journeys and hopefully we get a result on Saturday to take it to the last game against Blackburn and what will be, will be."
Neal Ardley will check on the fitness of Harry Forrester (back) and Tom Soares (hamstring). Liam Trotter, George Francomb, and Jimmy Abdou all have knocks. For Wigan, Nick Powell is back available again after injury.
Last time out
Bristol Rovers 1-1 Wigan Athletic
AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Oldham Athletic
AFC Wimbledon 0-4 Wigan Athletic
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