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Neal keeps faith after loss

9 March 2016

Manager on defeat to Bristol Rovers

Neal Ardley was proud of his side’s effort in defeat at Bristol Rovers and he still believes they are capable of accumulating the points required to make the play-offs.

A 3-1 defeat was harsh on the Dons after a second-half fightback had threatened to salvage a point at the Memorial Stadium.

Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “I am really proud of the boys. I thought we got punished for two sloppy bits of defending in the first-half, but it was fairly even. At 2-0 away from home we had a mountain to climb, but then we really responded. It was wave after wave of attacks.

"We showed energy, bravery and commitment and our fans clapped us off. The third goal was a misunderstanding between two players when we were about to break. Then two passes later it was 3-1 and it killed the game. Their keeper made great saves from Sean Rigg, Jake Reeves and Paul Robinson, it was pulsating.

“Anybody who thinks that Bristol Rovers were miles better than us was watching a different game than me. They were more clinical, but I am proud of our boys. We showed how good we are and we’ve just lost a game against a form team. We need to get 19 points from 11 games and we’ve shown that we are good enough.

“We cannot turn on each other. We will give it our best and if we fall short we can hold our heads up high. We have had a tough run of games. Before Barnet I had a points total I wanted us to get from this run of games and if we can get a win at Morecambe we will be close to that. It’s not doom and gloom, we needed to stay in there with this run of games, and then finish the season strongly in the last 10 matches.”

Neal, who said that it was too soon to assess the extent of the injuries suffered to Tom Elliott and Connor Smith, felt it was tough to select a starting 11 for the trip to Rovers.

“Before the game I wondered about whether to give Andy Barcham a breather or not,” added Neal. “He is a dynamic player and I also ummed and arred about the front two. But with it being such a big game against a team around us we decided to keep them in there. It has backfired with Tom coming off injured, but you cannot get them all right.”

Substitute Bayo Akinfenwa was red carded near the end for dissent and Neal felt it was worth questioning the referee about it afterwards.

“I have gone in to see the referee because I had heard conflicting stories about what was said,” Neal added. “I wanted to see if it could be rescinded, but there’s no chance of that and we have to move on. We have to accept it. He made the wrong decision in the first place by giving the foul, but that happens all the time with Bayo. I’ve constantly spoken to the head of referees about officials always giving fouls against him. It was never a foul in a million years, he’s lost his head after it was given against him, and it’s turned into a bit of a disaster.”

Interviews with Neal Ardley, Ade Azeez and extended highlights will feature on Dons Player later today.

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