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Neal: we’ve had a really good week

Manager's reaction after convincing win against Burton

22 July 2017

Neal Ardley saluted the team spirit and togetherness among his squad after two impressive victories and a pre-season training camp in between.

Speaking after the Dons defeated Burton Albion 3-0, Neal said: "I felt that there was a really good togetherness about the boys with the way that they worked for each other. In everything you do with your work off the ball there is an element of trust, you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page. That's one of the hardest things for a manager or a coach to get. We committed as a group (against Burton) to stuff that we did not do against Watford last week. Our pressing and regains without the ball were exceptional. It led to a couple of chances and a goal so that was probably the most pleasing part.

"We've had a really good week and we've bonded really well. If as a manager you look for anything more than what they gave us tonight, then you are looking for perfection. The team spirit we showed is exactly what we've been working on. The staff have done a lot of work on it and the players have responded. You cannot have players who don't want to contribute to the team spirit. Everyone has to all be in on that. If we can get that right, who knows where it can take us?"

"We just have to keep going. We've stuck with one system for now to try and work it to death. We are aiming to make sure we are really good at it. We will look at different things as we go along. You want to find some issues with it because there are things you want to tweak. We got a lot of positives from the game tonight and we will try to carry that into Wycombe. We will see if we can find out a bit more and get some more minutes into the legs at the same time."

During an interview with Rob Cornell, Neal praised teenage midfielder Anthony Hartigan's first start at senior level as "outstanding". It was a match when other players also stepped up to show their qualities, including Jayden Antwi, who scored a brilliant goal to seal victory in style.

"Anthony has impressed us since day one of pre-season," said Neal. "The lads are all delighted with him and I'm quietly confident that he will be a good player. We have a lot of competition for places in midfield, but I thought it was an outstanding debut. On tour Anthony came out of his shell and the boys looked after him. There was a good bit of banter and I think he feels a part of it. He is enjoying it and that showed in his performance.

"Egli (Kaja) was excellent and I'm really chuffed for him. He is trying to work out sometimes his role; what he needs to do and when he needs to go. He got that a lot better in this game. It was a fantastic goal from Jayden – again it came about from chasing a lost cause. He did everything right and it was a lovely finish, in off the post. It was a great way to end a good night."

Picture credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.

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