Wally Downes on a huge factor in AFC Wimbledon’s hot streak

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Wally Downes reckons one of the biggest factors in AFC Wimbledon’s perfect recent form is getting the fans back onside.

The Dons are off the bottom of the League One table after a third straight victory of the season, 1-0 at Southend United on Saturday.

But Downes is determined that nobody drops off their levels – with another crucial match in store tomorrow at home to Gillingham.

Asked if he can enjoy life with Wimbledon going such great guns, the boss replied: “I’m looking for the next speedbump – and Saturday is the next one we need to cross. There is still more to come.

“The big thing is the connection between the players and the fans.

“I detected a disconnect, for whatever reason, when I came in. Now everyone is on board and pushing in the right direction. You go to games and there is apathy and that is something that spreads. I don’t think it is there now.

“There are always things you can do better, even when you are on a good run. There are things you see in training or games – problems you want to eradicate. It’s about making less errors so that there are less chances for the opposition – then when they make mistakes it gives you a better opportunity to be successful.”

It makes you wonder if Wimbledon have started to deliver results because their survival fortunes looked so bleak going back a month ago.

But Downes says that he and his troops don’t feel extra pressure now they have clawed their way back into the survival equation.

“All you can do is prepare a team and get them playing how you want them to be playing,” he explained.

“I don’t feel pressure and my job is to keep the pressure off the players.

“With all due respect, pressure comes from outside agencies – the media.

“Playing football is not pressure. Playing football should be enjoyable. Hopefully we’re in a position where everybody is enjoying what they are doing.”

Striker James Hanson, who had been missing with a chest infection, should be available for this weekend. Kwesi Appiah is away on international duty with Ghana.

The former Crystal Palace man has had a hit-and-miss campaign with muscle injuries ruling him out for stretches.

Asked if he would have preferred Appiah to stay with his club, Downes said: “They [Ghana] have got first dibs on him, so what can I do?

“If he was to get injured then it’s not like I could have told them he wasn’t going anyway.”

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