Reaction from the Wimbledon manager
Neal Ardley praised his side’s defensive qualities after a resilient display frustrated Southend United and moved Wimbledon up to fifth in League 2.
The Wimbledon manager admitted his team were hanging on at times to defy Phil Brown’s men, but there was plenty to admire about another dogged away performance.
Speaking to Rob Cornell during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “We can play better and it was backs to the wall at times. We talked during a meeting in the hotel about Southend’s strengths; they are a big, strong, powerful team. We knew they would be dangerous from set pieces and the players took responsibility for how they were going to deal with that and they did it.
“We wanted to stop things at their source and press them high up. We were the better team in the first 20 minutes, but then we started to get picked off and the last 15 minutes of the first-half were tough. We were a lot better in the first 15 minutes of the second-half, but it was difficult because they are a good team.
“We had to take a lot of pressure, but we stayed strong defensively and defended very well. James Shea also made some brilliant saves. When you come to these places you need a goalkeeper to make saves at crucial times. With the players we’ve got in the team I always feel we will get one or two chances and we did. We could have had got another one after the goal, but we will take the three points because it was a tough game.”
Neal Ardley added he will certainly not be getting carried away by his side’s bright start with Hartlepool at home on Saturday up next.
“I don’t read too much into our start,” Neal said. “It’s been a really tough 10 days for the boys. The schedule for the start of the season is ridiculous. People who have not played the game don’t understand the intensity that these players have to work at and we just have to get on with it. Saturday against Hartlepool is a worry because last season we failed to win against the teams we were expected to beat. We have a new crop now and we need to find out about them. If we don’t have that energy and zip in our performance against Hartlepool then we will get beat.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley later on today, along with the thoughts of Callum Kennedy after his impressive return to the Wimbledon side.