Team performance delights Dons manager
Manager Neal Ardley hailed striker Lyle Taylor for reaching 20 goals this season, but he said a "phenomenal" work-rate off the ball was key to victory.
Taylor scored in each half to earn a 2-0 victory at relegated Dagenham and Redbridge, a win that keeps Wimbledon in the driving seat to secure the final play-off spot.
“It’s a lovely milestone for him,” said Neal in an interview for Dons Player. “He’s taken them both really well and tonight he could have had four or five, but I think Lyle and certainly I recognise the bedrock of a good team performance.”
“There’s a moment in the first-half when Barry Fuller makes an unbelievable clearance off the line and that stops you going 1-0 down and the nerves setting. That was a key moment in the game so Barry deserves credit.
“The work rate without the ball was phenomenal. It’s difficult when a team has got freedom and they went with three at the back in the second half. That can stretch you when they play three at the back. Tactically, we know how to deal with different formations, but the work rate that goes on off the ball is what gives you the bedrock to go and win the game comfortably in the end.
“Andy Barcham and Sean Rigg on the flanks, in particular, had to work tirelessly and then the chance came. We said to them at half-time 'you don’t have to chase the game, you’re a goal up, and if you focus on the things you do off the ball, the chances will come'. That's what happened.
“In the first 15 minutes they forgot to play the football and that resulted in it being a little bit tense, but once we settled down in the last twenty minutes of the first half I thought we got going. I thought the flow of our football was excellent and once you get your noses in front, it’s all about being professional. It takes an awful lot of work and we worked incredibly hard to get something out of the game.
“Strikers get judged on goals, but the love Lyle gets off us is for his work rate and his work rate for the team is phenomenal. They all have to be when they come into this team and anyone who doesn’t work their socks off will stand out like a sore thumb. It took a month or so to get that into them, but that’s where it starts and long may it continue.”
Neal was slightly more optimistic about left-back Jon Meades, who had to be stretchered off in the early stages of the first half. The Welshman has endured a difficult time with injuries lately and he had to go off with a suspected ankle injury at Dagenham.
“We’re hopeful it’s not as bad,” explained Neal. “He felt it was really bad at first and he feared the worst. That’s dulled down a little bit now, but until we get that looked at properly we are not going to know the extent of it."
The full interview with Neal Ardley and an interview with top scorer Lyle Taylor will be on our premium channel later on.