Post-match reaction after JPT exit
Neal Ardley said that AFC Wimbledon can take plenty of confidence from pushing Bristol City all the way and now the challenge is to build on it with vital games coming up.
Speaking during an interview with Dons Player, Neal was disappointed to bow out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, but he was delighted with the performance against a side top of League One.
“I think as a team we can take a lot of heart from it,” said Neal. I think we do well against teams that play good football. As a club I look at it and think that we did really well. I would like to think that Bristol City will not have had too many games as hard as that at home this season. As a manager I watched and studied them so that I could work out the best way of playing against them and we showed that it worked.
“I’m absolutely gutted because I wanted to get through to the next round. I hate losing, but I’m proud of the performance. We have to make sure though that the next few weeks are positive in terms of results.
“I had a plan all along and I did not want Matt Tubbs, Dannie Bulman or Sean Rigg to play for 90 minutes. Luckily we had no injuries and we could make those substitutions. We had a really good go at this tie and had Bristol on the rack at the end, but hopefully we’ve also kept players fresh for two games that are going to be really tough.”
Neal praised his players for their application on the night as they carried out his game plan effectively.
“I’m proud of the boys,” added Neal. “I always do my homework on the opposition and I felt that if we played with one striker it would have been very hard for us. It would have been attack versus defence. We wanted to play two and we had a game plan that we only had Monday to work on really. We changed our shape and I thought it worked really well. If we had kept our normal shape and given them the middle of the pitch they would have caused us a lot of problems.
“We tried to narrow it off a bit and play almost like a diamond formation when we had the ball, but without the ball we had a different way of dealing with it. They were getting frustrated and their first goal came at a time when it didn’t look like coming. To have a team top of League One hanging on for dear life at the end shows how well we played.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley and an interview with George Francomb later on today.