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Neal praises cup response

5 November 2016

Manager's reaction after Bury draw

Neal Ardley praised his players for digging deep to keep their FA Cup hopes alive after a first-half performance that left him far from happy.

The manager questioned the attitude of Wimbledon’s players pre-match and he felt that carried over into the game.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “I had a few doubts before the game because we looked very relaxed. I like us to be relaxed and in good spirits, but when you do not go out and do the warm-up well it normally shows on the pitch. My rallying call before we went out was, ‘we are going to trust that this laid-back attitude is not going to go onto the pitch'. We needed them to really focus, but they didn’t. We did not focus on our set-pieces and we did not have focus in the way that we played. We became 11 individuals, but Bury did that to us.

“I don’t think it mattered what team that we put out today. In the first-half we were a little bit too arrogant and we thought we only had to turn up and we would win. But it was a cup tie and credit to David Flitcroft because I thought they were exceptional in the first-half. As poor as we were in the first-half, they were so good. They got to everything, caused us problems, got around the sides, and picked up the second balls. They did everything that we pride ourselves on.

“I felt helpless at half-time and at 2-0 down I was really gutted because I thought we could be going out of the cup. I really want us to do well in this cup. Credit to the boys, they got themselves out of a hole, and now they have to go and finish the job.”

Neal added that he left the players to take responsibility for their first-half performance and to do something about it in the second-half.

“We did not do anything in particular,” said Neal. “We did not change the formation, but we told them what they had to do to get back into the game. We challenged them and they went out and did it. We are big on players taking responsibility and we cannot win the game for them. We are not doing anything weird and wonderful. The players just needed to show a bit of pride and put Bury to the sword like they did to us in the first-half. Tom and Lyle have come up with the goals, but everyone put a shift in and we are still in the hat, which I am absolutely delighted about.”

The full interview with Neal will feature on Dons Player later.

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