Neal Ardley was a happier manager last weekend despite a third consecutive League Two defeat.

The 1-0 loss at Portsmouth on Saturday leaves AFC Wimbledon closer to the drop zone than the play-offs, but Ardley was relieved to see a reaction after the dire defeat to Rochdale the weekend before.

Dons had beaten the 2008 FA Cup winners 4-0 at the Cherry Red Records stadium in November, but this time round a solitary Ryan Taylor header was the difference between the two sides.

Ardley said: “We get all the stats from the game and Pompey’s first attempt on goal was on 27 minutes.

“Their last attempt was when they scored in the 52nd minute, they had three in total, with two on target.

“We kept pushing and pushing, we had two cleared off the line, a point blank save from the keeper, Charlie Wyke’s had a one on one, which if he squares it Luke Moore taps it in, but he shoots and hits it wide.

“We know you need to score goals to win a game of football and we didn’t do that. They camped in and defended for their lives.”

He added: “You know you are going to lose games, and I would rather lose like that where I am much happier that I have my team and not theirs.

“I could see an identity to the way we played, which I did not see in the Rochdale game and what really bugged me.”

A growing injury list also means Ardley is going to the market again in an effort to bolster his defensive options.

Ahead of this weekend’s visit of Bury, Ardley is sweating over the fitness of Will Antwi (hamstring), while Andy Frampton and Callum Kennedy remain at least a week away from a return to training.

Peter Sweeney is back in training, but unlikely to feature, while Charlie Sheringham, who was concussed in training, is being monitored this week.

Ardley said: “I would love to get to a point where I am naming a squad and having to pull one or two aside and tell them they are not in the 18.”