The manager on a battling draw at Oxford
Neal Ardley saluted the response of his players after a draw at Oxford United rounded off an encouraging sequence of results since the defeat at Northampton.
Since that reverse on 1 November, the Dons have lost just once and that was in the JPT at League One Bristol City.
Speaking to Dons Player after the 0-0 draw at the Kassam Stadium, Neal Ardley said: “We’ve got a point away from home and it keeps a little bit of form going. We kept a clean sheet against Dagenham last week and we’ve got another one today. We are through to the second round of the FA Cup and we put in a fantastic performance at Bristol to give them a run for their money.
“Overall, in the past couple of weeks the players have performed really well and we've produced five really dogged performances. We will give them a little break because I’ve been quite demanding of them in the last couple of weeks. I don’t want to see another Northampton or Wycombe and they know that. I’ve been on their backs about every little detail and it has showed. I’ll continue to do that next week to see if we can keep the results going.
“We were hurt after Northampton and we have bounced back since then. It’s been a tough few weeks, but in the last five games the boys have put in really dogged performances. I will give Neil Cox some credit because he sees defensive stuff better than any of us. We also have Alan Reeves, who was a centre-back in his playing days. ‘Coxy’ has done a lot of work, including video analysis, with Alan Bennett and Adam Barrett and he’s been showing them a lot of different things. Pictures paint a thousand words as they say and credit to the players for picking that up. We just have to keep the momentum going.”
With Sean Rigg suspended, Neal decided to change his formation at Oxford and he was pleased with the way his side adapted to it.
“George Francomb was under the weather earlier in the week and I think that showed on Tuesday night,” added Neal. “We don’t want to be a ‘one trick pony’ and we want to have other options for how we play. Ade Azeez has been in great form and I thought we could cause them problems with three up front. I thought we had the better chances. I was brave with my team selection and we played with three centre forwards away from home so it’s ironic that we drew 0-0! But Matt Tubbs was back in the left-back spot getting in slide tackles and they all put a shift in today.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch Neal Ardley’s full post-match reaction later today and an interview with Dannie Bulman will be on our premium channel tomorrow.