Dons boss demands more from his players as Crawley defeat makes it ten without a win
AFC Wimbledon manager Johnnie Jackson felt he could no longer defend his players following a 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Crawley Town at The Cherry Red Records Stadium.
An early goal from Ashley Nadison earned the visitors their first away win of the season and condemned the Dons to a tenth game in a row without a victory in League Two.
Jackson’s side failed to register a shot on target during the 90 minutes, and the former Charlton boss felt there was little to excuse the performance in his post-match analysis.
“I thought it was a poor performance,” he said. “I’ve been saying in this run without a win that I thought the performance levels were really good and deserved more, but today I can’t honestly say that.
“We were well below par. We lacked energy and bravery. There was an anxiousness about our play. I can accept losing a game of football, I don’t like it, but I can accept it. Today the way we lost is what sticks with me.
“I need more from a lot of these lads. It’s well documented that we’ve got a lot of injuries and problems like that, but people have got the shirt and I always say when you’ve got the shirt, don’t give it back to me.”
With Alex Pearce unavailable after being forced off in the midweek draw at Newport County, Jackson currently has an injury list that has prevented him naming a full complement of substitutes in recent weeks.
Young talents Alfie Bendle and Luke Jenkins have been recalled from loan spells to provide cover. Bendle was introduced as a second-half substitute against Crawley alongside Hus Biler as the full-back returned from injury, but the Dons boss felt that none of his players impressed.
“I’ve got decisions to make about who plays, it’s the same for all of the guys,” he said. “If they get opportunities they have to take them, I’d argue that no-one’s taken their opportunity today.
“I haven’t got the luxury of making wholesale changes because of the injuries but if I could, I would after today. Not enough of the boys are stepping up to the plate at the minute and saying: ‘you can’t leave me out’.”
Jackson was reluctant to point solely to the January departures of key men Ryley Towler and Ayoub Assal for the drastic loss of form that has seen hopes of a play-off push disappear.
He did however admit that changes in terms of recruiting players would need to be made to avoid similar injury-related struggles next season.
“We lost arguably our best two players in January,” he said. “The football club has to do things right financially, it’s the nature of being a League Two club.
“Even in this run, the mood within the group has been really positive. That’s why I’ve defended them and not hung them out to dry.
“We’ll be keen not to make the same mistakes. We’ll recruit a certain type (of player) that’s got a history of playing games and a robustness to play 30, 40 games a season so we’re not in this sort of situation next year.”