Post-match reaction from the manager
Neal Ardley said that his side’s performance lacked spark today and they paid the price for being unprofessional at the end.
An injury-time winner knocked Wimbledon out of the FA Cup and ended a three-match winning streak heading into today’s game.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “There is that air of disappointment and being gutted. For our standards, it was unprofessional. In the first 10-15 minutes for a side that had won three on the trot, we showed a lot of anxiety in our play with our clearances and composure. That meant we had to chase the game. We got back into it and then took control of the game after scoring the equaliser.
“For me, it was a case of ‘could we get another goal and stop it going to a replay?’ Then in the last five minutes we started giving a few silly little fouls away and we invited some pressure. We let a left footer turn inside from the right and you are asking for trouble then. We got caught with a sucker-punch at the end. The players worked their socks off and ran themselves into the ground, but we lacked that spark of quality that we have had in recent weeks.”
Neal felt that referee Graham Horwood was wrong to rule out a first-half Wimbledon goal after a challenge on goalkeeper Steve Arnold by Tom Elliott.
“It should not have been disallowed,” added Neal. “The fourth official told me that the reason for it being ruled out was that Tom was looking for their goalkeeper. But I have watched it back and both of them missed it. It was disappointing because they have been saved by the referee there and it would have meant they would have had to come out and play.”
Neal confirmed afterwards that George Francomb and Bayo Akinfenwa both missed the game with thigh injuries.
The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player.