By Rob Cornell
Neal Ardley saw positive aspects of play from his Dons side and was given an idea of some matters to sharpen up on, after last night's 2-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.
Although the Dons were slightly disappointed not to add The Cherry Red Records Cup to The Football Manager Cup in the trophy cabinet, Neal's focus is very much building towards the big kick-off at Scunthorpe on August 5.
"There were loads of positives and loads we learnt," said Neal in an interview to our premium iFollow channel. "We've played against two good footballing teams in the first two games (Watford and Burton Albion) and done really well and pressed them well. Against Wycombe, we didn't cope very well with second balls and that is something we've got to take on board and something we've got to get right before the first game as teams will mix it up.
"That was the problem, it was two second balls that put us 2-0 down. Other than that there were some positives in how we controlled spells of the game and things we've been working on – such as playing out from the back and rotation and movement worked very well - but ultimately we never really changed pace in the final third to really carve out those clear cut chances."
"We need to keep believing in what we're doing, but we need to get a bit of tempo when we do get out. You invite teams to press you, you press and get yourselves into good areas of the pitch and now you need to go with tempo.
"That's where the game opens up because of the speed of play in that final third and we were the same speed in the final third as we were in the middle and defensive third and that was probably the problem," added Neal.
"We just lacked that cutting edge, they looked like scoring more than us, albeit through the crosses and the second balls and the set-pieces, but that was the team talk before the game – you're going to face something a little different. We've got to do better with our second balls and our set-pieces and ultimately those were the moments that changed the game really.
"Liam Trotter was a real positive considering he hasn't played much and he showed some of the things he can do too."
"There's been some pleasing signs so far. The youngsters have stepped up and done really well. However, we've got some players out we'd like to have back in the squad – Darius Charles, Jon Meades, Tom Soares and now Lyle."
Striker Lyle Taylor made a second half substitute appearance last night, but had to come off due to injury and was replaced by Egli Kaja,
"It looks like he might have a little strain in his calf and that's not ideal. It's disappointing, but Dougy (physio Stuart Douglas) will assess it and see where we are with that, but it's never good to have.
"If you look at Darius, Meadesy, Tom and Lyle in the past you'd probably be really worried and feel you're not able to cope without them, but I don't think that's the case with the squad we've got. We just need to get them back sooner rather than later and keep pushing forward.
The full post-match interview with manager Neal Ardley is available to subscribers of our premium iFollow channel.
Pic Credit: Graham Hunt (ProSports Images).