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Neal on a battling draw

23 November 2016

Manager's reaction after Dons extend unbeaten away league run

Neal Ardley praised his side’s resilience after they battled away for a point at Millwall, but he said it was a disappointing night overall.

With Jon Meades sent off and Barry Fuller picking up his fifth booking, it means both will be suspended for the visit of Fleetwood on Saturday.

The manager also felt his players showed a lack of quality on the ball during a 0-0 draw that failed to set the pulses racing.

Speaking during his post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “It’s a tough place to come, but we knew they were missing their two key strikers, which is a big part of their game. We knew it was not going to be easy, Harry Smith is a big lad and a handful. I thought that we were poor in the first-half, we did not have any rhythm. We did not pass the ball well enough or retain it, which was surprising for us with the form we’ve been in. I thought there would be a big more of a swagger, but there wasn’t and we seemed a bit nervous.

“We said to them at half-time that we should try and play a bit more and not get caught into a battle. We did that a bit better in the second-half, particularly when we went down to 10 men, but it was a disappointing night. We’ve had Jon Meades sent off and Barry Fuller booked so we are two full-backs short going into Saturday. It was a disappointing night in that respect, but great character from the boys. For me, it was a poor game of football that they probably edged.

“We dug in and we’ve kept a really good record going (nine league away games unbeaten). I thought our two centre-halves and our back four defended the box brilliantly.”

Neal felt that referee Graham Horwood had a poor game and that he got key decisions wrong on the night.

“With the first booking for Jon Meades, they have given it as reckless, but he won the ball quite cleanly,” Neal added. “I thought the referee was poor tonight. Barry has got booked for winning the ball in a 50/50 and it was shoulder to shoulder, but he gets a free-kick given against him. Barry then reacted, disappointed that he has had a free-kick given against him, and gets booked for it. In a London derby, you are going to end up with eight men if you referee the game like that. So it was disappointing, but we will move on to Saturday with a patched-up team. With the group of boys we’ve got, we will give it our all.”

  Neal’s full post-match reaction with WDON's Rob Cornell posing the questions is now on Dons Player and an interview with Jake Reeves will follow later on today. 

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