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Neal: job is half done

7 January 2017

Manager's reaction after draw at Sutton United

Neal Ardley praised his side’s resilience at Sutton United today after the Dons lived to fight another day in the Emirates FA Cup.

National League side Sutton pushed Wimbledon all the way in today’s third round tie with Neal Ardley men’s having to stay strong to survive spells of a pressure on a 4G surface that offered a different kind of test.

Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “The game was everything I thought it would be. I thought they would take the game to us. They have quick players on the break and they are very good on this surface. I am not going to lie; I was concerned before the game that it would be hard to bring our game to this pitch. There is a difference and anyone who thinks there isn’t does not understand football. I’ve played on both.

“We had to dig in and we had to stay in it. It is a cup tie and we had to do our jobs. In the end with our defence, James Shea, and the work-rate of the boys, we have managed to put ourselves in the hat for Monday night and that was our remit at the start of the game. Sutton’s form at home over the last 18 months has been exceptional and that is because 80 per cent of the teams that come here struggle to play on the pitch. We are no exception to that.

“We did not play brilliantly, but when you do not play brilliantly all you can ask from your team is that they stay in the game. We worked incredibly hard to do the basics well. It is a job half done and we are slight favourites now on our home surface, but we still have to play well because they are a decent outfit.”

Wimbledon appeared to have valid claims for a penalty near the end when captain Barry Fuller went down in the area, but referee Keith Stroud failed to give it.

Neal added: “I did not have a brilliant view of it, but Barry got the other side of the guy and he made a tackle from behind. If any of my players did that I would be having kittens. The referee claimed he got the ball, but in any other position on the pitch if a player tackles from behind he gives a free-kick, whether the players gets the ball or not. With four minutes to go perhaps the referee did not have the conviction to give a potentially game-winning decision.”

Neal said that Jon Meades was not considered today due to a sore ankle after playing in two games in three days last week.

The interview with Neal is on Dons Player and interviews with Paul Robinson and Jake Reeves will follow tomorrow.


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