Manager's reaction after season starts with loss in the Midlands
Neal Ardley was far from disheartened after Wimbledon’s defeat at Walsall today as he felt there was not a lot between the two teams on overall play.
Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “It was welcome to League One. For the majority of the first-half we were comfortable as they had possession in areas they did not really threaten, but we found ourselves 1-0 down after seven minutes from a free-kick through a bit of magic. Maybe we could have done more in the build-up, but it was a majestic strike.
“The second goal we will be disappointed with because that’s not really us. In between, it should have changed. There was the chance for Chris Whelpdale after a great run and a great ball. We really should score that one. Then their goalkeeper makes a great save from Lyle Taylor and ‘Barchy’ is denied from the rebound.
“We have to be as clinical as they were. They probably had four chances and scored three, but we had five or six and did not score until the penalty at the end. Between the boxes I was really pleased with the energy and fitness, but at both ends of the pitch we need to tighten up.
“We have to try and make sure we are not in a position when we are chasing games. We got punished for anything we did wrong in the game. For the majority of the game I did not think there was bundles between the two teams.”
Neal was full of praise for AFC Wimbledon supporters after 1,049 of them made the trip to Walsall.
“They are incredible,” said the manager. “A few of our new players were like ‘wow’. They never turned on us even at 3-0 down. We are trying to punch above our weight, but if they can maintain that spirit home and away it will really help us. As long as the boys give everything and run through brick walls for them we can do something special together.
"The closeness between the players and the fans has never been so great. We will tighten up at both ends and we’ve got a great spirit about us. The boys need to keep believing that we will be all right this season.”
The manager confirmed afterwards that Jon Meades missed the game due to an ankle injury.
Full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and an interview with Paul Robinson will be on our premium channel tomorrow.