Manager says players lost their discipline
Neal Ardley said that AFC Wimbledon’s second half performance played into the hands of a powerful Cambridge United team and he was disappointed with the reaction of his players to falling behind.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player after the 2-1 defeat, Neal said: “I told them several times to stick together if we faced adversity. The first element of that was when we conceded a goal at the start of the second half, but we needed to pick ourselves up and within two minutes we have not dealt with the next part right. If you are in a plus area for set pieces at the end of the season you will give yourself a better chance of being where you want to be. They had six or seven players over 6 feet 3 inches tall and they were always going to keep putting balls into our box.
“We said beforehand not to give away set-pieces because it would give them an opportunity to throw loads of bodies into the box. We gave them the first corner and we never recovered from that. Straight from kick off it was a straight ball to our centre back’s head and he had a chance to head it away, but it has ended up going out for a corner. Then we don't defend the corner and it is two mistakes in the first minute. It was five minutes of madness at the start of the second half.
“The disappointing thing for me again was that we lost our discipline. We could have grown into the game again and got back on the front foot, but we turned the game into a fight against a team full of giants and that was disappointing to say the least.”
Neal added that the Dons need to be more ruthless after they failed to kill off Cambridge during a first-half that his side completely dominated.
“You can put an attacking team out, get your full-backs and wingers working in unison, and keep getting bodies into the box, but you have to take your chances,” Neal said. “With every defeat I will take total blame for things because I am the manager. I will have to work on the finishing with the players to get us three goals up like we should have been tonight.
“I thought our front two were immense tonight. It was a big complement to us that they decided to play so many tall players because they wanted to nullify our threat. We wanted to play two wingers with Andy Barcham and Sean Rigg pulling their two centre backs into wider areas. They did that brilliantly in the first half, but we have lost the game to two set pieces.”
Full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player.