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Neal on Rochdale draw

27 August 2016

Manager's reaction after Dons concede late on

Neal Ardley was “gutted” that AFC Wimbledon conceded a last-gasp goal at Rochdale today, but he felt that the hosts deserved something from the game.

Speaking during his post-match interview, Neal said: “They kept putting the ball into the box and you have to defend corners and throw-ins by seeing your jobs through. To be fair, no one has lost their marker and no one got on the end of the corner, but the cross has gone straight in. The keeper has come, there are bodies in the way, and it has been missed. I could say it was unfair, but it’s not. Rochdale kept going and they deserved it. I think Keith will be really pleased with the spirit that they showed. I thought they were good and they put us to the sword at times.

“We are really gutted to concede a soft goal deep into injury-time. We’ve worked really hard without the ball in the last two away games and we felt we needed to do that. We’ve lost a little bit of our quality with the ball. We had fleeting moments when we looked good, but too often in the second-half we made bad decisions and lacked quality. That is probably as bad as we’ve been with the ball. Without the ball we were dogged, we saw out our jobs and defended our box really well.

“We were close to nicking the game and I think that is what we would have done. Rochdale were good for most parts of the game. They made us work across the pitch and our transitions had to be good. Even when they went down to 10 men they kept going, it galvanised them. We should have done better, but they were brave and they kept getting it in there.”

Following two away draws in succession, Neal believes there is plenty to be positive about for the rest of this season.

“We would have had a clean sheet today, but for a soft goal at the end,” added Neal. “There is loads to work on, but we are certainly positive about what we are doing. I said to the boys afterwards that ‘we do not turn on each other’. Part of what we had last season and what we want this season is team spirit and an unbelievable work ethic. We will try to keep that going.”

Neal said afterwards that it was too early to assess Lyle Taylor’s injury after he came off in the second-half, but he hopes it is just cramp and nothing serious.

Extended highlights from Rochdale, plus Neal’s full post-match video reaction, will feature on Dons Player tomorrow.


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