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Neal praises character of Wimbledon’s players after beating Bradford

Manager interviewed after victory against promotion-chasers

23 December 2017

Neal Ardley was delighted with the character shown by his squad to defy a second-half fightback from promotion-chasers Bradford today.

Of course, the victory provided Christmas cheer for everyone connected with the club at a time when Wimbledon really needed a victory.

“I said to the fans down in hospitality beforehand that we would do our best to get their Christmas off to a good start,” Neal told iFollow. “Three points does that and I thought it was a really entertaining game, end-to-end stuff. Bradford are so brave with the way they play. Every time you are on the attack against this team, you just feel they can go up the other end because they leave people in positions that can hurt you straight away. They trust their defenders.

“I thought in the first-half we were excellent, I really did. In our team-talk we said, ‘brilliant’, but we just made a couple of tweaks and had a couple of points to make to them. I said to them, ‘they are going to come flying out of the blocks’ and that was our problem. My only disappointment with the performance was that we came out for the second-half and it was like a surprise to us. We had talked about it at half-time and it was a sloppy goal to concede from our point of view, coming from a goal kick.

“I thought the character the boys showed was phenomenal. At 1-1, we could have been like a boxer on the ropes, but we composed ourselves, got back, and scored with a slightly fortuitous goal. We will take it because I thought our chances deserved it. They hit the post and the bar, so we did have a little bit of luck, but Jon Meades had a great chance from a yard out, Lyle had a one-on-one, which the keeper knew nothing about, but it hit the back of him and went wide. We had other really good chances in the first half, but we haven’t taken them. That’s why we were hanging on at the end. Do I think they deserved to win? No. Do I think we did enough? Yes.”

Neal felt that midfielders Tom Soares, Liam Trotter and Jimmy Abdou deserved credit for the resilience shown in midfield against a good Bradford side.

“Tom Soares does a job that people don’t recognise,” added Neal. “He mops up and does stuff in front of our back four. He is never going to get all the plaudits for swashbuckling stuff because that’s not his role in the team. I thought Jimmy Abdou and Liam Trotter, against three good midfielders in Jake Reeves, Romain Vincelot and Nicky Law, got around the pitch and they were involved in everything. It was only near the end when we had to change shape a bit that we brought Jimmy off. I was delighted with him.”

Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.

The full post-match reaction from Neal is now on iFollow, along with an interview with Cody McDonald.

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