Reaction from the manager after Fleetwood
Neal Ardley praised his side’s defensive performance after Wimbledon denied promotion-contenders Fleetwood Town today.
Wimbledon kept their first clean sheet since the win at Scunthorpe United on 18 January with a resolute display and Neal was delighted with his defenders on the day.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neal said: “It is not an easy place to come because Fleetwood are in the top-six for a reason. They had a defeat on Tuesday and they were looking for a reaction, but I thought we played well and there was nothing between the two teams. We did not just come here for a point and we tried to win the game. We switched to four at the back and we put Kevin Sainte-Luce and Charlie Wyke on to try and win the match. At the same time, we defended brilliantly. I thought that Will Antwi and Darren Jones were immense.
“There have not been too many times this season when we’ve been at sixes and sevens in defence. When I first took over we were being opened up for fun. Now, it has only been set-pieces and switching off at times when we’ve conceded. As a unit we’re defending really well, the defence was excellent today. We looked like a decent League 2 team today.”
Wimbledon had a new face in defence at Fleetwood with on-loan Fulham youngster Tom Richards slotting in at left-back and Neal saluted the 19-year-old after his debut.
“We switched to four at the back and Tom probably thought that he would be galloping down the left side playing wing-back,” Neal added. “But 20 minutes in he was covering for the centre-backs in a back four and he did really well. He learned on Thursday that AFC Wimbledon wanted him and then he’s in training with us for the first time on Friday. Last night he had to sing his initiation song for the lads in the hotel. He has a wonderful left foot and loves galloping down the left wing. I thought he was steady today and he’ll get better as time goes on.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch video interviews with Neal Ardley and Barry Fuller later this weekend.