By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley pointed to plenty of positives and maintaining that winning feeling, after AFC Wimbledon's Checkatrade Trophy victory against Barnet last night.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal talked about handing young players opportunities with Will Nightingale captaining a side that included six Dons academy graduates, but he was also keen to maintain winning momentum after Saturday.
"We made it hard for ourselves, but credit to Barnet too," said Neal. "When we gave them a chance to get back into the game, they exploited it and scored some really cracking goals. I think both me and Rossi (Eames) need to go away and work on defending because there was nothing wrong with the attacking! It's always nice to get a win. Last year we beat Swansea in the competition and we want to get out of the group. We want to do well in all competitions. Winning becomes a habit. We started this week well with a good win against Doncaster and now we've won again. Hopefully, we can take that into the end of the week for what will be another tough game."
Neal added that it was important to test the younger members of his squad last night by giving them competitive run-outs.
"It's always nice for young players to experience scoring goals (Anthony Hartigan and Egli Kaja both scored). It's great for them, the club, and the academy. We wanted to have a look because a few of them had done well in pre-season. They came into a more competitive environment and we've had a good look at them. They acquitted themselves well."
Apart from a 20-minute spell in the first-half, Neal felt that it was a good team performance against League 2 opposition.
"There were a lot of positives," said Neal. "We had given the boys a lot of instructions on how to play against their system and we looked good when we got it right in the first 25 minutes. Then we started to get a bit undisciplined, we started doing our own things and wandering all over the pitch. We lost our shape, became erratic, and at that point Barnet took control of the game. They popped it about well. The half-time score (2-2) was probably a fair reflection.
"In the second-half we went back to playing the way we wanted them to and in the first 30 minutes we did it well again. We got our noses in front, but then we got a bit tired. Some of the young players showed a bit of naivety. When you are tired, you have to know how to keep control of the game and not lose your shape. We did not do that well, but there were a lot of positives. It's good because these boys have not had as many games, they are bound to feel tired with the tempo of that match. We got a lot from it."
The full interview with Neal is on iFollow, along with extended highlights from the 4-3 win at Barnet.