Second win over Christmas delights the manager
Neal Ardley praised his side’s work-rate after the Dons made it two wins in quick succession with a resounding victory against Exeter.
A 4-1 win versus the Grecians sealed maximum points over Christmas after victory at Fratton Park just over 48 hours earlier.
Speaking during an interview with Rob Cornell for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “Credit to the boys because I thought the energy and work-rate that they put in during the second game in just over two days was phenomenal. In the last nine games we’ve won six, drew one, and lost two, so we’re doing all right. We want to get better and in January we will be trying to strengthen in certain areas. We’re all working incredibly hard and the boys looked really strong in the second-half today.
“I thought about freshening it up, but we only ended up making one change. The first-half was difficult even though we went 1-0 up. They caused us problems and Exeter always look like they can open us up when they come here. It’s easy to give credit to the opposition when you win, but I think they are a very good team and deserve to be where they are in the table.
“The score line flattered us slightly because they had to push more men forward when they were chasing the game. That allowed us to catch them out and create more chances. We could have had more in the end, but there were spells when they could have equalised or gone ahead. We knew that if we dropped off and played low-tempo that they could hurt us.
“We wanted to make it a high-tempo game, but that’s difficult when you’ve played two games in just over two days. In the first-half we got pulled about a bit and they carved us open a few times, but we changed our shape at half-time and the second goal was vital.”
Neal was delighted for Ade Azeez after he scored just before he was taken off 20 minutes from time.
“The plan was always to bring Ade off in the second-half,” Neal added. “He has not played 90 minutes much this season and he is the type of player who is dynamic and will run hard for the team. He put in a good shift today. It was probably time to put Bayo on and give them a different type of problem.
“Ade should have scored against Portsmouth and our second goal today has gone down as an own goal. Bayo was not quite ready and as Ade was going through I was thinking ‘go and finish it’. I wanted to bring Ade off with the fans clapping him because of his goal and that’s what happened.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full post-match reaction with Neal Ardley on Dons Player and an interview with Bayo Akinfenwa will follow tomorrow.