It's dogged, not pretty and its about digging in to survive, says Ardley
AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley wants five wins from the remaining 12 League Two games, and he is handing out the shovels to help his team dig in and fight for each one.
After Harry Pell’s first Dons goal secured a dogged 1-1 draw with fellow relegation strugglers Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night, Ardley admitted survival will require all hands on deck and a tunnel vision focus.
But the manager also admitted that his charges are feeling the pace of eight games in five weeks, and injuries and illnesses are not helping their cause.
The Dons dropped back into the relegation zone after the Plymouth draw.
But they go to promotion-chasing Cheltenham – who feature former team-mate Byron Harrison – this weekend unbeaten in four games.
Ardley said: “I always felt the Plymouth game was going to be the toughest of the past few weeks.
“I know people think ‘We’re higher than them, and we should beat them at home’, but it was always going to be a tough one and it was good that we did not lose.
“It was not pretty, we had to dig in. There were a lot of boys out there who, and I am not using it as an excuse, were tired.
“It looked like the games had just caught them up a bit and we need to freshen them up ahead of Saturday.”
For the trip to Cheltenham, Ardley will be without Peter Sweeney, Jim Fenlon and Will Antwi, while Jonathan Meades is also a doubt.
Ardley said: “It is not great news – the boys we’re sending out are having to dig in, and there are a few who have had illnesses, so their bodies are depleted.
“But we have a goal we’re driving towards, a focus – if we had been beaten against Plymouth or we get beaten on Saturday, our goal is five wins so we’ll just keep going with a tunnel vision towards our goal.
“The boys are giving everything and, at the moment, there is nothing more I can ask of them.
“Cheltenham will be tough, and we’re doing all we can to get the boys refreshed for that.
“It will be a patched-up squad, but then we have a week off before another run of Tuesday-Saturday games.”
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