Wiimbledon manager's Southend verdict
Neal Ardley said Wimbledon’s victory against Southend highlighted the progress his squad has made during the past four months.
The 3-1 victory at Roots Hall was a far cry from the reverse fixture in November when the Dons were humbled 4-0 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
“That was one of my low points when we lost 4-0 to Southend earlier this season,” he said. “I did not think that we just beat them tonight – we made them look ordinary. We were the better team in all departments and that was pleasing. It shows the work the work that we have all done and the transformation we have made up until now.
“We now have a group of players that know how to play the game and the dynamics of the team is good. We have pace, quality and characters in the group. They are all fighting hard for each other. We should enjoy it and have smiles on our faces, but there is still hard work to do and we have to keep ploughing on. We are edging closer to what we need now. There could be a blip along the way, but we cannot fear that.”
Neal Ardley added that Wimbledon were rewarded for deciding to launch an attacking approach against play-off contenders Southend on their own patch.
“The staff, the players in the team, and those on the bench were all excellent tonight,” he added. “I told everyone in the dressing room afterwards that we were fantastic as a group. We were brave in the way that we set-up with two out-and-out wingers. Apart from a sloppy penalty that we gave away we were outstanding.
“Kevin Sainte-Luce started his first Football League game and we know what he is capable of with the things he can do on the ball, but he needs managing. He is still developing and he will have dips in form. He is getting there fitness-wise and he can be a real handful for defenders.”
The Wimbledon manager confirmed that Pim Balkestein was withdrawn with a hamstring injury and the extent of the damage will be assessed in the next couple of days.
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley later today.