Manager salutes academy product after his debut
Neal Ardley singled out Will Nightingale for special praise after the 19-year-old marked his full first-team debut with an impressive display.
Academy product Nightingale (pictured) received the man of the match award in a 2-1 victory against Accrington Stanley and his manager saluted his performance afterwards.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “I thought it was as good a debut as I’ve ever seen. When we found out about Jake Goodman’s injury I was asked by a couple of board members what I was going to do and I replied that I was going to play Will. They were delighted with that because it shows what we’re about as a club. If anyone understands the fans here and this club, it’s me. We want our home-grown players to be given an opportunity.
“Will has been outstanding for the Under-21s and he’s got better and better while training with the first-team. I had to trust that Will would be ready and that he would come in and produce a good performance. I thought he was brilliant and Deji Oshilaja alongside him was exceptional. We had two young powerful defenders and they both did their jobs brilliantly.”
Neal added that it was of vital importance for the Dons to get a victory after recent defeats and with a tough fixture schedule to come.
“Today was massive for us,” Neal said. “All victories are important, but after Stevenage and Carlisle I looked at this match and felt that we desperately needed a win. We worked hard as a team during the last week and had to train on a 3G pitch at times due to the weather. We worked on having more balance as a team and making sure that when we got forward everyone knew their jobs.
“I thought that we were solid defensively throughout the game. The midfield did a great job to protect the back four. Though we want to play well, the victory had to come first today. I thought we played really well going forward last Saturday, but a lot of people went home unhappy that we lost to a team near the bottom of the league. I put the statistics in my programme notes to show that we were excellent against Carlisle, but it worked today because the team were really solid.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full post-match reaction with Neal Ardley and interviews with Barry Fuller and Dannie Bulman will follow in the next two days.