Ardley enjoying life at the top as AFC Wimbledon look to cement promotion credentials against Oxford United

Neal Ardley is enjoying a different kind of pressure as AFC Wimbledon aim to keep their promotion credentials intact against Oxford United today.

The Dons boss has seen his side climb to fifth in League Two after a run of seven wins in eight games put them right in the play-off mix.

They sit seven points behind third-placed Oxford and Ardley is relishing the unfamiliar demands that come with managing a team near the top of the table.

“It’s a lot nicer, I can assure you!” he said.

“People at the bottom lose their jobs and the club goes to places they don’t want to go.

“If it’s at the top and you just fall short, then it is not as dramatic.”

Despite their form and lofty league position, Ardley, who masterminded an escape from relegation two years ago, is making sure he and his side are taking nothing for granted

”We had to dig deep that year to survive and this year we are going to have to dig deep, but with smiles on our faces hopefully,” he added.

Oxford have proved to be tough opposition for Wimbledon in recent years, with the Dons without a win in 11 games against Michael Appleton’s side.

But Ardley is anticipating a thrilling contest and claims his side are ready to put a stop to that run.

He said: “Sometimes you get bogey teams, but it has to come to an end at some point.

“It’s going to be an exciting game.”

The match also provides an opportunity for Dons full back Jon Meades to face the club that released him last summer.

And Ardley, who worked with the 23-year-old at Cardiff City’s academy, has been impressed with him this season.

“It’s nice for Jon because he was brought up under me at Cardiff and he knows that I have total belief in him,” he said.

“He is so dedicated, he fights or the team and he is desperate to be successful.”

Feature image courtesy of AFC Wimbledon TV, via Youtube, with thanks

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