After match reaction from manager and striker
Manager Neal Ardley praised the influence of his staff and the commitment from his side after AFC Wimbledon’s victory over Exeter City at St James Park.
First-half goals from Tom Elliott and Lyle Taylor and a second successive clean sheet ended a run of defeats at the Devon club, stretching back throughout his tenure.
“I had a good chat with Simon Bassey and Neil Cox before the game,” said Neal during an interview with Dons Player. “I always seek their opinion and they felt that this was the best way to go. Bass was particularly strong that Tom should get a chance and we should see if we could get him back to how he was at the start of the season. He’s scored a goal and had a couple of other chances and he’s put a great shift in for the team. With the second goal, if that’s going to drop for anyone you’d want it to be Lyle.”
“It was a tough call because so many had put in an unbelievable shift on Saturday and you look at the situation and think – how do I want to go? I knew the shape I wanted to play and what was going to be the important factor in the game, but you need to show faith in the squad and you need to look after one or two players,” Neal added.
“Andy Barcham has come back in and played two games after a long spell out and done unbelievably well and it was tough to leave him out, but at the same time I feel I may have risked injury with him. Sean Rigg and Tom both came in and were excellent. We knew that come the second half we’d have a few bodies out there that were feeling the effects what with having played Saturday as well and we freshened it up accordingly.
“Exeter cause you so many problems. Every time we’ve played against them they’ve opened us up at will – no matter how hard we’ve tried to set up defensively. On this occasion they had a few moments, but the final third defending from our team was phenomenal and we looked dangerous going down the other end. For the boys to put that shift in after Saturday, where they played for so long with ten men, I think we should all be proud of them.
“Jon Meades had tight calves, Paul Robinson got a whack on his knee in the first half and was very sore and he was limping at the end and so too was Barry Fuller, but they all battled through it and the midfield three of George Francomb, Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves have earned a couple of days to freshen up for Cambridge. Now we go for a really tough away game which is going to be different as they are in good form and we’ve got to try and deal with that.”
Tom Elliott is now relishing a trip to his former club on Saturday, after opening the scoring at Exeter with a bullet header.
"The trip home will feel a lot shorter now that we have the three points! Everyone is happy and we can look forward to Cambridge. We followed up Saturday with a good win, so it’s been a good weekend with four points that we’ve thoroughly deserved.”
Elliott showed he was suffering from no ill effects, after picking up an injury late on against Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day.
“I was getting double vision in my left eye, but I was fine. I went to A&E and got everything sorted. George Francomb put the ball in the box and I was just there to head it in! I know what George is going to do when he gets the ball as he has got a great delivery and I was just there to do my job and put it into the net.”
Elliott also praised Wimbledon’s defensive qualities: “It’s a good clean sheet and we needed it as we haven’t had too many of them this season.”
The full interviews with Neal Ardley and Tom Elliott are available to Dons Player subscribers.