Manager's reaction after Oxford victory
Neal Ardley was delighted to reward Wimbledon supporters with a long overdue victory against Oxford United and he saluted the overall performance that achieved it.
Speaking to Dons Player after the stunning 3-1 victory in front of the Sky TV cameras, Neal Ardley said: “It is three points and that is what we aim to achieve, but I am absolutely delighted that the Wimbledon fans can say that the hoodoo has ended. I’ve been here a few times when we’ve not deserved to lose and we’ve been on the end of a wrong result. You start to wonder if there is some almighty God up there that is doing it to you! The fans have probably come here with low expectations, but they’ve gone home happy so I am happy.
“It was an all-round team performance. When they handed their team sheet in I thought they were going to go with two pacy forwards, which they hadn’t been doing. Maybe they did that to combat what they thought we would do. We had to be on our guard and we made players aware of their roles. As a manager and a leader you want the group to have cohesion and we had that. The work-rate was phenomenal. The front three worked hard, the midfield three were everywhere, and the back players had a tough front four to play against, but they did it really well.”
Neal also praised the quality of Wimbledon’s third goal and the performance of Dean Parrett, who has been a good addition to the midfield engine room this season. Though Oxford supporters were incensed by Parrett’s tackle that led to Wimbledon’s second goal, Neal added that it was perfectly legitimate.
“People had murmured to me that it was not great, but I’ve seen it back and if that’s a foul you would be giving fouls all over the pitch,” Neal said. “It’s absolute nonsense. He slides along the floor and gets the ball, he does not touch the player. The player falls over him as his momentum carries him through. It then falls to Darius and he scores.
“Dean is more natural going forward. He can pick a pass, he is two-footed, and his drive on the ball is probably quicker than without it. He has a lot of natural quality. We want to work on his defensive qualities as well, but he complements the other midfielders. With the legs of Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves, you could probably put anyone in there and they could influence the game, but we are delighted with how Dean has picked up. He looks fitter and stronger.
“For the third goal, the tempo and pace of Jake Reeves’ pass and Andy Barcham’s run, was as good you will see. That is Premier League type stuff.”
Neal Ardley’s full post-match reaction will be on Dons Player later and interviews with Darius Charles and Alfie Egan will feature tomorrow on our premium channel.