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“We want to survive – and put a marker down for next season”

Our first-team coach on Saturday's match versus Portsmouth

29 April 2021

Rob Tuvey said that the staff and players are determined to complete the survival mission with a flourish by extending the unbeaten run until the end of this season.

The Dons head into Saturday’s home match versus Portsmouth without a defeat in six League One matches, but that run will be tested against a Pompey side seeking the points to stay in play-off contention.

“They have gone through a change of management and they are still pushing for the play-offs, but we’ve got our own focus and our own goals," said our first-team coach. "We need to secure survival, but ultimately we want to try and put a marker down for next season at the same time,” said Rob. “We go into every game wanting three points and we want to put a marker down for moving into next season, making sure that we are not in this situation anymore. We want to start looking up the table and achieving greater things for this football club.

“Credit to the other sides as well because they’ve put runs together as well, but we just look at ourselves really and we’ve dominated games of football. I think the biggest thing is that our performance levels have been consistent throughout. We are going into Saturday six unbeaten and we want to go until the end of the season unbeaten if we can. We want to take that momentum into next season.”

As a lifelong Dons supporter, Rob was reminded of past glories today with it being exactly 13 years since that memorable play-off semi-final victory against AFC Hornchurch. Though it’s a match he recalled with affection, Rob is eager for the current crop to push on and create their own history.

“I can’t believe it’s 13 years ago and I remember the goal Mainy scored that night – I think he first picked it up at the halfway line before beating three or four men. It sent us on our way to getting up the leagues and Terry did a great job in the following seasons to get us into the Football League. It’s nice to look back, but we are here now and we want to try and create our own memories.

"Hopefully, we can secure survival this weekend, but we don’t want to dwell on that too long, and we want to be celebrating promotions in the future, rather than looking over our shoulders and celebrating staying up. Hopefully, there are many more nights when we can be celebrating promotions like we did that season, rather than celebrating survivals.”

Rob reported no fresh injury worries at the current time after the 3-3 draw versus Rochdale and a couple of first-teamers are edging closer to being back involved.

“We’ve had Ethan Chislett and Darnell Johnson back out training, so that’s really good. This weekend may be too soon for them. With the rest, we just have a few bumps and bruises, but we should be all fine for Saturday.”

Our management team have been firmly focused on ensuring that Wimbledon recapture the defensive solidity that was in evidence before conceding three goals against Rochdale on Tuesday.

“I have heard the word complacency used, but I don’t think that plays a part in this squad,” added Rob. “We have a really focused group and I think the other night it was individuals forgetting specific roles that they’ve been given and that’s something that we’ve got to switch onto. It’s really important as a collective that we look at ourselves first and foremost. There’s no finger-pointing in this squad. With this whole group they are reflective and they want to come together so that we look at ourselves before we look at the opposition.

“Taking ownership as an individual and for the team is one of our core values. Defending starts from the front, so that’s Ollie and Joe, plus Ryan when he plays as well. They are the catalysts for everything we do. We want to try and take the game to teams, to play on the front foot and be aggressive. That starts with them and they have to be our best defenders at times.”

To get you in the mood for the Dons versus Pompey, take a look at the goals from our five victories against Portsmouth since returning to the league. Click on the link below.

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