FA Cup journey is over – but Will Nightingale reckons cup finals all the way still for survival-scrapping AFC Wimbledon

BY MAX HALL

There was a welcome flash of defiance on AFC Wimbledon defender Will Nightingale’s face when he was asked whether his side can stay up in League One and he replied simply: “Yeah. Why not?”

Wandsworth boy Nightingale said his team-mates have to take heart from their battling display against Championship Millwall at the weekend and carry the positives into their final 14 games of the season.

“Obviously we’re hurt,” said the central defender on Saturday. “But we’ve got to lift ourselves and the way we’ve got to see it is: there’s 14 cup finals to go.

“We’ve just got to take the positives and finish this season strong.”

The 23-year-old defended Wimbledon’s record under manager Wally Downes, after criticism over poor home performances against Fleetwood and Burton Albion and vowed there would be no FA Cup hangover in Tuesday’s critical game at Rochdale.

“I’ve got to say the right Wimbledon’s going to turn up,” said the stopper on Saturday, ahead of the trip to Spotland. “That’s the biggest thing at the moment: consistency. We’ve got to keep that consistency if we want to finish the season strongly – which we have to, we haven’t any choice really. Even though we lost today, we’ve got to keep those levels.

“I think since Wally’s come in, before today, we’ve won four, drawn three and lost six. People may say that doesn’t look great but when you say four of those have been against second, third, fourth and fifth in our league – three of them were away – I think there’s been a massive turn in results and in performances, apart from the couple against Fleetwood and Burton. Take those two out and I think we’ve been spot on it.

“It was nice to get a win up at Walsall, there was a great feeling on the coach on the way back, we’ve got to keep that winning feeling. We’ve got to get that winning mentality together.

“We’ve played well the last two games and we have got to keep that run going. We’re going to go into every game wanting that three points, I think we’re good enough. I think the fact we were so close to getting to the quarter finals of the FA Cup’s got to prove that to us.

“We’ve possibly matched, or not been far off – some people would say we’ve been better than – a Championship side today, and we’ve got to use that.”

IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD

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