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Neal felt defeat was harsh

27 February 2016

Reaction from the manager after Oxford loss

Neal Ardley told his players not to be disheartened by today’s defeat after his side pushed automatic promotion contenders Oxford United all the way.

Wimbledon created plenty of chances, but paid the price for missed opportunities and lapses in concentration at the other end, according to Neal.

Speaking during an interview with Rob Cornell for Dons Player, Neal said: “We are disappointed, but we had a good go on the day. We got punished for a couple of sloppy mistakes. In the first 20 minutes we looked nervous, on edge, and we did not have that composure. Once we settled them down and got the goal, we went on and in the second-half we wanted to come out and have a go at them. We had two cleared off the line, the keeper has made two or three good saves, and we had the best chances.

“Ultimately, we have given a ball away in midfield and within five seconds a good team punished us. It was a good finish from the lad and that’s why Oxford are up there. We had the majority of the chances and we're all disappointed, but I said to the boys that they should not be disheartened by it. The stats do not tell us that Oxford were better than us. The stats tell us that their keeper, a bit of luck, and poor finishing has cost us getting something from the game.”

Neal Ardley felt afterwards that referee Kevin Wright and his officials failed to spot infringements in the build-up to Oxford’s first goal.

“The referee and officials started slowly,” said Neal. “The fourth official could see my bemusement about the first goal. It was a foul on Kelle, he is trying to kick, but he cannot follow through because their centre-forward runs across the line of him. So he did not get a good kick on it, they get a throw-in from that and it’s a foul throw. I’ve watched it back and the player’s foot is so far off the ground it’s unbelievable. He manages to get the distance he needs to put a long throw in because of that and they scored a goal.

“It was poor defending from us, but it should never have gone that far. I was really disappointed with the officials about that and obviously we got a goal disallowed for us with Tom Elliott. No one in the whole place really knew why it was disallowed.”

Neal confirmed afterwards that Andy Barcham was withdrawn in the second-half due to a hamstring injury.

Full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and an interview with Sean Rigg, along with extended highlights, will follow tomorrow.

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