Neal Ardley on AFC Wimbledon needing to find their scoring touch, Joe Pigott’s form and facing Portsmouth

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley knows his side need to find their goalscoring touch.

The Dons face League One leaders Portsmouth at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday and are joint-lowest scorers in the division along with Plymouth, Bradford and Bristol Rovers – those latter three all in the relegation zone.

There have been stirrings of discontent that Wimbledon are not higher in the table.

Asked about it, long-serving Wimbledon boss Ardley said: “It’s football, I don’t blame the fans. They want to see their team win games of football, that’s perfectly reasonable. 

“I set out my stall in the summer to try and get a better attacking team together. We worked very hard to get Jake Jervis and James Hanson – a different type of striker. We wanted to get Kwesi Appiah back to his best.

“We’ve conceded some sloppy goals at the moment but our biggest failing is we haven’t found the back of the net enough. We’ve worked incredibly hard with personnel in training.

“I collect all sorts of stats through the season and we are third for clearcut chances created.

“But there are no complaints, I’m not going to make excuses. We didn’t do a hell of a lot wrong against Bradford or Plymouth [and lost both 1-0]. It is the story of our season.

“Jake Jervis has a chance from a yard out and it comes off his heel and straight at the goalie. That would have put us 1-0 up [at Plymouth]. We’ve also had ones cleared off the line.

“You can’t feel sorry for yourselves, you have to keep believing. If we keep on going it [the luck] has to even out.”

Former Charlton striker Joe Pigott has got six goals in 14 appearances this season. He was signed from Maidstone in January for an undisclosed fee.

“When I convinced him to come to us I told him the reasons why he had been where he had been in the pyramid despite a great goalscoring record,” said Ardley. “He hadn’t had the starts he should have probably played in.

“I told him I would kick him up the backside and make sure he has an all-round game. Me and my staff have kept pushing him and he has responded.”

Kwesi Appiah has two goals in 12 outings but since signing for Wimbledon the frontman has struggled with injuries.

“It’s about him trusting his body,” said Ardley. “I still believe there is a very good player in there. He can do a lot of good things at this level. He came through pre-season well.”

Portsmouth have the third best defensive record in the league and have also taken most away points (16).

Ardley said: “Kenny Jackett knows what he’s doing – it was a tough job taking over after Paul Cook last season and it was probably a stabilising one in the league.

“He has taken that on this year. It is very difficult to play against his teams and get lots from it – history tells you they have not given a hell of a lot away.”

IMAGES BY PAUL EDWARDS

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