AFC Wimbledon boss reveals the warning he gave ex-Charlton striker – and now it’s paying off

BY MARK RITSON

Neal Ardley has revealed an early warning to striker Joe Pigott is paying dividends, with the striker in a much-improved condition to when he first signed for him in January.

Pigott put in a top, all-round performance for AFC Wimbledon at Gillingham on Saturday, and was rewarded with the winning goal early in the second half.

Ardley has been impressed with the 24-year-old but is refusing to let the forward rest on his laurels, as he keeps on driving him towards becoming a regular goalscorer at League One level.

Pigott, who came through the ranks at Charlton Athletic and once notched a dramatic equaliser in the League Two play-off final for Southend United, dropped down into the National League with Maidstone United before Ardley snapped him up.

“I look at centre-forwards and they hit their peak when they get to 24 onwards,” the boss said, speaking to the South London Press.

“Joe has always scored goals. The bit he probably hasn’t had enough of is starting games and his all-round game, just brushing it up a bit better.

“Last season he joined us, he wasn’t fit and was playing non-league football. He wasn’t fit enough for League One but he scored five goals in 12 games and helped keep us up.

“That shows he has got goals in him, he’s technically good and a great size. We sent him away with a program and he’s stuck to it, he’s had the desire to do it and come back fitter and stronger.

“It was more just strength work, strength and conditioning. We are now seeing what we’re seeing, his all-round game has come on.

“I told him when I signed him, and his dad, I said I am going to keep kicking him up the backside and he better be ready for it because I’m going to drive him.

“To be fair, we have a great relationship and he quite enjoys it, being pushed and driven. At the moment, he’s in there.

“No one can rest in this team. You have to play well for this team.”

IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD

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