Neal Ardley takes his Wimbledon side to face the MK Dons in the FA Cup second round this weekend.
Neal Ardley takes his Wimbledon side to face the MK Dons in the FA Cup second round this weekend and he admits it is nice to have a break from League Two.
The challenge for AFC Wimbledon is huge. They are embroiled in a relegation battle in the league while the MK Dons are pushing hard for promotion to the Championship.
The betting offers see the Dons as worthy favourites in this fiery encounter but as we all know, anything can happen in the cup.
Wimbledon are looking at the cup tie as a break from their league troubles but also an opportunity to gain some much-needed momentum for the coming weeks.
“We need to be absolutely at the top of our game, we need them to not be at the top of their game and we need a little bit of luck in between,” said AFC Wimbledon manager, Ardley.
“The pressure is off and from a fans point of view as long as the players come off that pitch having worked as hard as they can to get a result then we will have done our job.”
The history between the two clubs is well documented as the original Wimbledon were relocated to Milton Keynes in 2004 much to the anger of Wimbledon fans.
AFC Wimbledon were formed in 2002 to combat the move of the original club and now a match between the two will take place a decade later.
On loan Wimbledon midfielder Steven Gregory said: “It is a one off game and form counts for absolutely nothing.
“Stranger things have happened in the FA Cup and form goes out of the window in games like this.”
The next fixture in the league for Wimbledon is a relegation six-pointer away at Barnet, who currently sit bottom of the football league.
This is a much bigger match for them than the MK Dons FA Cup clash and in some ways they will be glad when the media circus surrounding the cup match is over.
“We don’t want to disrespect the FA Cup, it is a fantastic competition, it is going to bring us in some money we didn’t budget for and a lot of press which a small club like us isn’t used to,” said Ardley.
“Ultimately though we are under no illusions and the league is going to be extremely tough and is going to be our bread and butter.”
Since the tie was announced there has been speculation that AFC Wimbledon fans would refuse to travel to Stadium MK.
However Wimbledon Chairman Erik Samuelson said he expected all 3,000 tickets allocated to his team to be sold despite initial plans by them to boycott the match.
If Wimbledon manage to cause an upset this weekend, it will be seen as some sort of retribution for the past decade.
The two teams finally collide after a decade of ill-feeling between them and it was always going to happen sooner or later.
Wimbledon Manager Ardley said: “This fixture had to happen one day as much as the fans didn’t want it to.
“No matter what the score is the fans will come away knowing that the players have given it their all.”
Follow us on @SW_Londoner