Manager's reaction after Mansfield win
Neal Ardley admitted that he got his team selection wrong today – and the manager saluted his players for turning it around in dramatic fashion against Mansfield.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player after the 3-1 win, Neal said: “We had to fight – that was the half-time message. In the first-half I tried to be brave, but it was disjointed. The first-half was all my fault. I am out on the training field every day and I believe that if the players train well consistently then they come into the reckoning for the team. I put a big emphasis on that. George Francomb was going to start in central midfield, but he got a dead leg in training.
“With Jake Reeves out we lacked central midfielders and with the back four having played so well recently I wanted to keep Jon Meades in there. I went brave with two wingers in midfield and Dannie Bulman with three forwards, but it did not work. I tried to stick with it to give it enough time to gel, but it didn’t and I had to make a call at half-time.
“I took responsibility for it and it was nothing to do with the players. At half-time I said to them ‘no excuses now, let’s go and play the way that we can’. I wanted us to use the flanks, penetrate them, and press high with our energy levels. The boys carried it out well and they were fantastic.
“Every time we went forward and went in behind we looked like scoring. The boys fought for everything and that’s all you can ask for at times. It was not pretty and it was scrappy at times, but from front to back we battled. The players deserve all the credit.”
Ade Azeez rounded off victory with another goal after coming off the bench – and Neal believes he has a bright future in the game.
“That is probably as good as I have seen him,” added Neal. “He came on and ran them ragged, they just could not cope with him. I think Ade could have had three during the time he was on. I’m delighted for him because he does a great job for the team. He has just asked if he can play for the Under-21s on Tuesday to keep his fitness up. He has got a great attitude.
“You look around at the lower leagues and there are not many 21 or 22-year-old strikers setting the place alight. Most of the strikers doing well are in their mid-20s with a bit more experience and I think that’s important. Ade has only just turned 22, I think he has a bright future and he is still learning the game.”
Neal Ardley confirmed afterwards that Jake Reeves missed the game afterwards with a hamstring injury.
The full post-match reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and interviews with Lyle Taylor, Karleigh Osborne and Barry Fuller will follow tomorrow.
Picture credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.