Match reaction after Cheltenham win
Neal Ardley believes there are good signs that the Dons can make progress next season after Wimbledon rounded off pre-season with a victory.
Speaking during an interview with Rob Cornell for Dons Player, Neal said: “We had some really tough games, but we have come through them. We have had to show some different qualities, including defending our final third well. In most of our games we have not been particularly free-flowing in our play.
"We have not done stuff like we did towards the back end of last season when we totally dominated games. Today, there were spells again when we did not have the ball and had to defend well, but they are the sort of qualities that will pick-up points during the season.
“It is always difficult when you put a lot of new players together, but there are some good signs. We can play better. We have already shown though that even when we are not been playing free-flowing stuff and absolutely controlling games we can stay unbeaten. Long may that continue into the season.”
Lyle Taylor struck his fifth goal in four games since joining the Dons and Neal hopes his side can continue to play to his strengths when the season gets underway.
“I would rather he saved them for the start of the season, but it is not a bad habit to get into,” Neal added. “One job for me as a coach is to bring in players capable of scoring goals, but also to make sure that the team functions in a way that they get their chances. Even though we were not free-flowing today, we still had several chances to score and Lyle is really good at taking them.
“We did loads wrong today. We got too deep and did not retain the ball well enough up front, but one thing I did say to the boys afterwards is that Gary Johnson’s teams are always really fit and hard-working. In the first half we got out of some difficult situations, but they recovered very quick and we never felt that we had a lot of time on the ball.
“Sometimes when you play against teams and you get that flow going you can isolate players and get one-on-one with them, but we never had that. They worked so hard and they continued that in the second half. Gary got them in our faces, which was fantastic because we wanted it to be like a League 2 game. We had to hang on in there at times. Even though we looked a little erratic, I thought we defended really well.”
Neal Ardley’s full post-match reaction featured on Dons Player earlier today and an interview with Jake Reeves will follow tomorrow.