Neal Ardley wants his AFC Wimbledon squad to realise the potential he believes they possess, as the Dons go in search of a third league victory of the season tomorrow.
Oxford United are the visitors to the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday (kick-off, 3pm). Although they’re second from bottom and their last league victory came on 25 August, when Oxford beat Burton Albion 3-1, they gave a good account of themselves in the Carabao Cup in midweek – losing 3-0 at home to holders Manchester City.
Wimbledon’s two victories so far in League One this campaign have come away from home – on the opening day at Fleetwood Town and earlier this month against Gillingham. Neal is now aiming to get a first home win on the board before September comes to a close.
The Dons are also keen to avoid a fourth successive defeat in all competitions, having lost the previous two home games to Scunthorpe United and Swansea City’s under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy, and on the return to league action last weekend at Accrington Stanley.
Below are quotes from both managers, plus stats, ahead of tomorrow's game.
Neal Ardley –
“We need to show what we can do under pressure, with anxiety, when you’re behind, making sure you do the stuff that wins battles, individual battles, collective battles – there’s so many things that can go wrong or right in a game. You learn from it. We learnt from a twenty minute spell in the first half in the Scunthorpe game and we came out second-half and put that right. We have to learn from the twenty five to thirty minutes at Accrington and try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“The fans have been brilliant. I can’t fault them. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me, even when we’ve lost games, and say, ‘I like what I’m seeing’, ‘I’m enjoying watching it’, and things like that. By and large, they are appreciating the intent and they are supporting and cheering that. We need to start trying to reward their faith and support with some wins, so that everyone at 5 o’clock on a Saturday has got a smile on their face.
“We’ll try our best and the fans can create an atmosphere like they did at the back end of last season, like they have done every game this season. At the moment the fans have been magnificent and the team needs to try and deliver the same for them. If we keep that going, things hopefully will be good.
“I went and watched Oxford play in midweek against Man City. They were excellent and gave City a really good game. They’ll feel they could have got something the week before and the week before that. When teams lose games – and we feel the same – you come away feeling you could have got something from it, unless you get beaten 4-0.
“You come away believing that you had the chances to turn the game, but ultimately that’s what happens when the opposition take their chances and you don’t take yours. Oxford have been that way in quite a few of their games. They’ll feel they are in a false position and they’ll feel it will turn – we’ll feel the same with our situation. On Saturday we’ll find out what one will be the case.”
Karl Robinson -
“I have unbelievable respect for Neal Ardley and they have found a number of different ways to win matches. They have different combinations up front, midfielders who can control any game, a back four who are very strong and it’s a tight place to go and play but we have to embrace it and look forward to it.
"Every single player who took to the pitch (against Manchester City) I’m immensely proud of. I don’t think we were peppered, I don’t think they missed chance after chance. They dominated the ball, but they do that week-in, week-out. We had that bravery. At no stage did we kick Man City, at no stage did we bully them, or do things that were against the laws of the game.
“I want to do things the right way. I said to my players before the game, play on the edge, but play with total respect."
Striker Kwesi Appiah returned to full training after shrugging off a groin strain and Neal Ardley said he will check on the striker’s fitness before selecting a squad to face Oxford United.
Kwesi missed the defeat at Accrington Stanley and so too did midfielder Anthony Wordsworth, who was struck down by a bout of tonsillitis, and he has also made good progress.
Oxford United received a boost when Samir Carruthers, Jamie Mackie and Simon Eastwood all returned to training ahead of the game. Marcus Browne and Rob Hall remain in the treatment room.
Last time out
League One - Accrington Stanley 2, AFC Wimbledon 1
Carabao Cup - Oxford United 0, Manchester City 3
Form guide (in all competitions, starting with most recent)
AFC Wimbledon - LLLWWL
Oxford United - LLDLWD
All competitions -
AFC Wimbledon – Joe Pigott (5)
Oxford United - Gavin Whyte (3)
The two sides last met in March of this year. Wimbledon took the lead from the penalty spot through Lyle Taylor in the 32nd minute, Todd Kane equalised for Oxford six minutes later. Left back Jon Meades scored a second-half winner for the Dons, against his previous club, in the 71st minute.
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