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Neal hails late fightback

19 September 2015

Post-match reaction from the manager

Neal Ardley praised his side’s character after the Dons fought back in dramatic fashion to beat Notts County today.

For almost 85 minutes it looked like the Dons were heading for a fourth home defeat in all competitions, before goals from Dannie Bulman and Bayo Akinfenwa turned the match on its head.

But they were getting loads of bodies behind the ball and we never had the quality to open them up. Speaking during an interview with Rob Cornell for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “With seven or eight minutes to play I was thinking about what I would say to the players because it looked like it was slipping away from us. We were trying to urge the boys forward because some of them were out on their feet. It was hard because I don’t remember them being in our half. It was all us and I can’t remember them opening us up.

“Although we looked tired, I still thought we looked stronger than them. The statistics were massively in our favour. They were trying to come away with a classic 1-0 away win. On another day it might have worked. But we got fresh legs on and it has turned for us. It was a performance of real character, if not quality.

“We were out on our feet, but we kept going forward. There were groans and a bit of anxiety, but we kept pushing and pushing. It never looked like it was going to happen. Then George Francomb put a cross in, ‘Riggy’ got across his man, and Dannie got into the box and around the back to score.

“Ade Azeez did brilliantly for the second goal. He did brilliantly on the opposite side before that, but he put the ball into the goalkeeper’s hands when three players were queuing up for the cross at the back post. There were a lot of groans behind me and people calling him all sorts of names, but then he put over an absolutely class ball and Bayo had the desire to get on the end of it. It can be a fickle old game.”

Neal added that Bayo Akinfenwa deserved his dramatic late winner for sticking to the task after a first-half when he was shackled by the Notts County defence.

“In the first-half I thought they mastered him well, but I had a chat with him,” Neal said. “I think Bayo is brilliant when he is invading the space of defenders and bringing them into play, but in the first half he got underneath the ball too much. In the second half he was much better. With the forwards we have got if you keep putting quality balls in there you will get your just rewards and we got that today.”

Neal said afterwards that it was too early to assess the knee injury that caused Will Nightingale to be substituted in the first-half.

Full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and interviews with Dannie Bulman and Bayo Akinfenwa will follow tomorrow.

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