Manager on holding top-flight Watford
Neal Ardley was pleased with his side’s overall performance after a youthful AFC Wimbledon squad matched Premier League Watford at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Seventeen-year-old Christian Tounga was one of several young players in a squad that worked tirelessly to earn a share of the spoils against a side promoted to the top-flight.
We had good threats today with Tom Elliott’s pace and power, Andy Barcham’s trickery and the pace of Ade Azeez. Obviously, we had Bayo’s strength up there and I thought David Fitzpatrick did very well. I am pleased that we have come away with a 2-2 draw against a Premier League team.Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “
"I was a bit wary before the game because we had eight players under the age of 22. I was a bit wary that if Watford caused us problems it might be a bit too much, but our boys acquitted themselves really well. There is the fitness element, which was great, and I saw some really nice bits and bobs that went on during the game from us. I thought defensively, particularly in the first half, we were solid. We got our stuff right that we had worked on in training. In the second half for 20 minutes we did not get it right and Watford took control of the game.
“We made the pitch big when we did not have the ball at the start of the second half, but in the first half we made the pitch smaller. The distances from the back to our front were too big for 20 minutes in the second half and because of that our midfield four could not get near to closing anyone down. Everything was dropping to Watford because the gaps were too big.
“Once we raised the intensity at the top end and got higher up from the bottom all of a sudden the midfield were winning more balls. That meant we were on the front foot and getting in behind. It is a tactical thing, but the boys will keep learning that as we go along during pre-season.”
Both of Wimbledon’s goals today came from the penalty spot with Callum Kennedy and George Francomb both scoring from 12 yards and Neal added that a penalty taker for next season has yet to be decided upon.
“I will leave that to the players,” Neal added. “We have some technically good players and penalties are all about confidence. Callum stroked home a good penalty, but for a minute I thought Bayo was going to take it off him! George Francomb scored one last season and I would have thought he will want to take them. But we have Tom Elliott and we will hopefully have another striker coming in. If the strikers want to have them I am happy with that. It is something that we will nail down closer to the start of the season.”
Full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley will feature on Dons Player shortly.