By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley today sealed the signing of a player he has tracked for many years with Joe Pigott joining AFC Wimbledon from Maidstone United.
The 24-year-old signs for an undisclosed fee after an impressive season so far for National League side Maidstone.
Joe's prolific record at youth level for Charlton Athletic first brought him to the attention of our manager, who also tried to sign him before he joined Luton Town and Southend United on loan. The striker's spell at Roots Hall resulted in Joe's career highlight so far when he scored a last-gasp extra-time equaliser at Wembley to help Southend to play-off glory against Wycombe.
Click on the link below to watch a clip of Joe's well-taken goal at Wembley.
Speaking shortly after completing the signing in an interview for our iFollow channel, Neal Ardley said: "We've looked at Joe at various times before he has gone on loan. Initially, we looked at him and Michael Smith when they were at Charlton. Michael was one they were willing to let go on loan, but Joe was slightly up the pecking order. He was a really promising player for them back then. He has scored goals all the way through his youth career and moving onto his first-team career.
"I've gone to watch Joe twice in the last 10 days and he has certainly got the quality for this level. Alan Reeves has also watched him as well and we've watched a lot of footage on top of that. He seems to have developed his all-round game massively from box to box. Inside the box has never been an issue; he looks to score goals and get in there. Our job now is to get him into our culture and work ethic, including what we expect from our forwards, and we will do that as much as we can. I've had a long chat with Joe and his Dad and I'm sure they know what to expect, so I am looking forward to working with him.
"He is different in many ways (to what we have). Lyle does a lot of his running outside the box, he is very skilful, but Cody likes to do his work inside the box. I think Joe can do a bit of both. He is 6 ft 2 inches tall, he has got a lot better in the air than he used to be, and his hold-up play is improving all of the time, but he is a box player. He wants to get on the end of things and score goals, which his record shows. Very rarely are strikers at the peak of their powers between the age of 18 and 24. It takes that long sometimes to develop your game, so hopefully we are getting Joe in the peak of his career."
Having progressed through the ranks at Charlton, Joe went onto make 12 first-team league appearances for the Addicks. During his time there, Joe had loan spells with Bromley, Gillingham, Newport County, Southend United (twice) and Luton Town. He enhanced his reputation by scoring at all those clubs, including a double for Newport in a 4-1 win against Wimbledon. Though a subsequent permanent move to Cambridge United did not go according to plan, Joe moved to his hometown club Maidstone, initially on loan, and his prolific form soon had Football League scouts watching him.
All at AFC Wimbledon welcome Joe to the club and wish him every success here.
The full interview with Neal after Joe's signing is now on iFollow, and an interview with our new striker will follow shortly.