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Neal hails battling spirit

19 December 2015

Manager's reaction after Dons earn a point in Wales

Neal Ardley said there was no half-time rollicking for the players at half-time today and he praised their character after a second-half fightback that stunned Newport.

Wimbledon looked down and out at half-time, but two goals from Lyle Taylor earned a 2-2 draw that offered a positive response after last week’s defeat by Stevenage.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “The first-half was unlike us and we looked open. They played with a diamond and it made our two full-backs kind of redundant. It was hard because you get caught between not having a winger to defend against and covering your centre-backs. Losing Paul Robinson for 10 minutes was also a bit of a blow. We did not want to make a substitution because he is such an inspiration for us. We never really recovered from it. We just lacked a bit of everything.

“A manager’s job is to try and affect the game from the side. I made a brave substitution at half-time and went with three up front. We had a chat in there at half-time and there was no ranting and raving. The only people who could change it were the players and they did that. We had the momentum and we could have scored two or three in the first five minutes. We didn’t and they got a bit of control over the game again. We made another couple of substitutions and changed the shape again, but the spirit and commitment shone through.

“We could have won the game in the end. My overriding feeling is that I hope it has shown a real genuine spirit amongst the group. That was criticised a bit last week and if you are ever going to show that it is when you are 2-0 down. We should not have been in that situation in the first place, but it takes a lot of character to turn it around when you are all over the shop. The players deserve all the credit because they came out in the second-half and showed what they are capable of.”

Neal added that he was pleased to welcome James Shea and Andy Barcham back into the team after two months out for the pair.

“It is great to have them back,” Neal said. “Andy was running on fumes at the end, along with Lyle Taylor after the amount of work he had put in. James had only had one Under-21 game and to come straight back in was never going to be easy. But he will get better and better once he gets back into the swing of things.”

Neal said afterwards that Jake Reeves missed the game due to personal reasons and the player had his full support.

The full interview with Neal Ardley will be on Dons Player later on today.

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