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Neal hails fighting spirit

19 October 2016

Manager's reaction after last-gasp win

Neal Ardley was delighted to reward the 191 Dons supporters who made the trip to Bury with a “wholehearted Wimbledon performance” that secured three points at Gigg Lane.

On a wet Tuesday night at Bury, AFC Wimbledon showed battling qualities in abundance with a performance that responded to the manager’s pre-match challenge.

Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “The conditions on the pitch were very slippery and I said to the boys before the game, ‘let’s test ourselves and see if we are as good as we hope we can be’. It was going to be a horrible Tuesday night game in the wind and rain at Bury. We knew that not so many of our fans would be able to travel, even though the support we did have was phenomenal. We knew it was going to be a real test of character.

"We needed to make sure that we covered each other because there was always going to be mistakes in there. As always, it’s about having the desire in both boxes. There was a bit of quality for the first goal as Andy Barcham was absolutely fantastic and we had been saying to Lyle Taylor that he needed to get across people in the box. He did that tonight and got his goal.

“We showed real character tonight. It was great to reward our fans with a wholehearted Wimbledon performance. I have to be honest in that I thought there would be about 50 of them tonight and I wouldn’t have blamed them. Getting up to Manchester on a Tuesday night is murder! The boys came up to our fans at the end and they deserve a bit of an ovation themselves.”

Neal praised match-winner Jon Meades for playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks.

“Late on in the game I turned to ‘Coxy’ and said ‘come on one of you lads, just throw yourself at this one’. If ever there is someone brave enough to do it, it’s Jon Meades. It’s a fantastic winner later in the game. Jon is 6 feet 2 inches, he is powerful, and very good in the air.

“To be fair to Jon – and people don’t really know this – he has been in agony every week. At the moment he can barely walk in and around the training ground with bad calves and bad ankles. It’s one of those situations we are trying to manage, but he is going out there every week and putting himself through it. He will deserve a couple of days of rest before we go again at the weekend.”

The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player.

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