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Neal felt defeat was harsh

11 March 2017

Manager's reaction after Northampton

Neal Ardley felt aggrieved that AFC Wimbledon were not awarded a penalty before Matt Taylor’s crucial spot-kick and he said a draw would have been a fair result.

Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “I always have a look back at things before I make comments. Theirs is a stonewall penalty, it is a bad one to give away. If I am honest, it is a 0-0 game all the way through. I should be standing here saying, ‘all right we never looked like scoring, but neither did they, other than Matt Taylor’s free-kicks’. It is a stupid penalty: ‘Robbo’ puts his hands up in the area and when you punch a ball away in mid-air it is going to be a penalty, but we should have had one too.

“When Lyle Taylor tries to cut the ball back, the guy sticks his arm out away from his body. He plays the ball, it does not just hit his hand. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of that, but we did not deserve to win the game. I am not going to stand here and dress it up. We played some good stuff in the first-half, but we lacked a cutting edge. We never really looked like we were going to score on a consistent basis. In the end, we should be saying it is a 0-0 draw and we move on.

“In the final third our quality was not good enough, but you have to give some credit to the opposition. They defended really well and put their bodies on the line. I think we had two or three players who were not at it today. We struggle as a team when we carry two or three. It is my job to speak to those players to get them back on track.”

During the interview with WDON’s Rob Cornell, Neal also explained his team selection today after making four changes from the side that started at Bolton.

“We wanted to try three at the back,” added Neal. “We had played it well away from home and I thought in the first-half we moved the ball around really well at times. Then they changed their shape and credit to them because they realised we were hurting them. They nullified us more and we did not have the quality to deal with that.

“Paul Robinson was a booking away from a two-game suspension and it runs out tomorrow. Would I have been gutted if he had got suspended and missed the next two games? Yes. Darius was carrying a niggle and if I had lost him to injury and ‘Robbo’ to suspension I would have had no centre-backs for the week.

“I had to look at it and try and balance off certain things. Tom Elliott struggles to start three games in a week so I had to look at a way of keeping him fresh. We lost Tom Soares to an ankle injury, Dean Parrett was carrying an injury in the second-half, Andy Barcham was not feeling too good, and George Francomb’s groin was tight. We did our best to get the balance right and to try and win the game. Unfortunately, a moment of madness has cost us.”

 Full reaction from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and an interview with Jake Reeves, along with extended highlights, will follow tomorrow. 

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