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Neal: we had to dig in

9 April 2016

Reaction from the manager after Plymouth victory

Neal Ardley saluted his side’s resilience after an impressive defensive display frustrated Plymouth, before Bayo Akinfenwa’s header snatched victory.

A second successive away win moved the Dons into the play-off zone and the manager was delighted with the team ethic that earned a vital three points.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “In all the games we’ve played recently I think that was the toughest. I never felt comfortable. They moved it around well, particularly in the first-half with a diamond formation. They were a constant threat. We could not really get out and that’s unlike us. In the last few weeks we’ve had territorial advantage and certainly been the better team in that respect.

“I thought that Plymouth were really good and they were the better team, but we dug in and did our jobs. We had to dig in and show good resilience as a team. We know we are a good team. We have our firepower with five good strikers and we know there is goals in us. If we can do the rest of our game well and not be behind in games we always give ourselves a chance. Darius Charles and Paul Robinson have struck up a great partnership at the back so far.

“The moment of brilliance for our first goal was exceptional. It was a quick break with power and pace from Jake Reeves and the timing of the run carved them open. We were delighted to come in 1-0 up at half-time, but in the second-half they came at us. When they scored they had the momentum and at that point as a manager you are a thinking a point is a good result.

“We needed to make sure we did not give away another goal and end up losing. We sucker-punched them at the end. We have had that done to us, but today we did it and now we just have to get 10 more points on the board before the season is out.”

Neal praised the impact of substitutes Ade Azeez and Bayo Akinfenwa with the latter’s first goal since late November proving to be a vital match-winner in the play-off race.

“We felt on 60 minutes that our front two were starting to look tired and it was coming back a bit too quickly. We decided to freshen it up and we knew Bayo and Ade could cause them problems and we were delighted with what they did after coming off the bench.

“Bayo has been a great team player to have around the place. He has not sulked and he has been in it for the team. He came on and used his strength well. When they think they have dealt with Tom Elliott, then we have Bayo to come on. There were not many players who could have scored that goal.”

The full interview with Neal Ardley will be on Dons Player later on. Interviews with Paul Robinson, Dannie Bulman and Jon Meades will follow tomorrow.

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