AFC WimbledonSport

AFC Wimbledon no longer nice guys…and Harry Pell happy that is the case

Harry Pell believes AFC Wimbledon have shown they are no longer associated with being a “nice” team.

The Dons have only lost once – a 2-0 defeat to National League side Chesterfield in the FA Cup – in their last 13 games in all competitions before they travelled to Plymouth in the EFL Trophy on Wednesday evening.

Since the 1-0 defeat at home to Sutton United on October 15, Johnnie Jackson’s side have recorded an eight-game unbeaten run in League Two and are three points outside the play-off places and have kept five clean sheets on the bounce. They have defeated table-toppers Leyton Orient and picked up points against play-off chasing Tranmere, Swindon and Salford during their league unbeaten run.

Wimbledon have the worst disciplinary record in the fourth tier, collecting the most yellow cards in the division [48] and picking up two red cards.

“People often ask me what defines a good player or a good team at this level,” Pell adds. “The first thing that comes to mind is goalscorers or someone who is pretty on the eye.

“You have to have really good experienced professionals and some really good talent in League Two, but it’s about finding that way of winning games.

“From my own experiences, and with what I think I bring to the team, you need that other side when things aren’t going right, or you find yourself in a battle. There is no VAR or pundits who are analysing your every move in League Two, so you need to find ways of winning.

“We have shown that we can roll our sleeves up and beat the ball-playing teams, but we can also go into a battle with more direct teams.

“On our day we can beat anyone in our league.

“What we have been doing recently, there is no doubt about it, is promotion form. But the teams who kick on and progress do show a ruthless side that we need to show.

“It’s just the consistency, which as a group – staff and players – we need to put our foot down and really kick on in this next big period.”

Last season – in their first season back with fans at Plough Lane – Wimbledon only recorded two home wins during the league campaign. They have won their last three league outings at home.

“I know what the fans demand – I have had two stints here now,” said Pell. “They can accept losing games if we come up against someone better than us. The one thing they want is that you leave everything out on the pitch.

“We didn’t have that settled side before. Now that we do, everyone knows their jobs, and we have found a formula which is really effective at this level.

“One pleasing thing for me is that when I first came in, I thought we were a very nice team. I have been at Wimbledon before, and that’s not something that many people associate with Wimbledon.

“We know we have good players and can be pleasing on the eye, but without that other side of our game, which we have implemented magnificently, you don’t get anywhere in this league.”

The Dons secured his services from Accrington Stanley after Luke McCormick left for Bristol Rovers.

The 31-year-old box-to-box midfielder has made 22 appearances under former Charlton boss Jackson, scoring twice and recording three assists.

“It’s one thing I’m definitely doing – I’m loving it,” said Pell of his first months back with the club.

“I’m really enjoying the group. When I first came in, we were in a difficult moment as a team. We didn’t find our feet early on in the season, but lately, we have definitely found a settled side and a winning formula.

“I’m really happy with the way it has gone. Apart from the FA Cup game [against Chesterfield], it has been smashing.

“When I first came in, it was a struggle because I wasn’t fit, and we were losing games – I knew I could bring a lot more to the side.

“I’m one of those players who struggle to park football with home and everyday life. I have committed myself to this football club – I want to kick on and see where it can take us.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas, because we haven’t achieved absolutely anything yet.

“If I finish this season, and there is a doubt in my mind that the team hasn’t fulfilled its potential in the league, I’ll be really disappointed come to the end of the season.

“You need luck along the way, but hopefully, we can be at the end of the season with our heads held high.”


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