Stirring fightback came after harsh words from boss
Neal Ardley was delighted with the response of his players in the FA Cup victory against York City after they were on the receiving end of a half-time dressing down.
Wimbledon had been far from fluent in the first-half and the Dons appeared to be heading out after Wes Fletcher’s early goal gave York something to hang onto. However, it was a different story in the second-half with the hosts producing attacking qualities that had been lacking before the interval.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “You just want to put on a performance. Sometimes you can’t always get a result, but you want people to be thinking that the team had a right go at it when the players come off. In the first-half tonight we lacked intensity and penetration. I think the boys were surprised at half-time by how hard I was with my summary of the game, but I’ve told them afterwards that our second-half has set the standard.
“You could see the difference between the two halves and the players did everything that I asked of them in the second-half. I thought that they were phenomenal. We will have to pick them up again because we’ve had an unbelievably tough schedule, but the boys have kept going and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
“In the second-half we had more midfielders making runs and I thought we needed another forward on. Ade Azeez came on and caused problems with his pace. It worked really well, but it all changed from us being braver higher up the pitch. When you have more runners playing off Bayo then he will be a big threat.”
Neal praised Jack Smith for his contribution, which included the all-important equaliser, and he believes the experienced left-back has been a victim of his own versatility in the past.
“Part of Jack’s downfall in the past was that he’s been used as a utility player,” Neal added. “He can play anywhere and be excellent, but we’ve kept him in the same position, which is good. We want him to build-up a rapport with the winger. Tonight he has produced a lung-bursting run from deep and has finished it as cool as you like.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley and an interview with Jack Smith will follow later on today.