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Neal: a very good point

Manager praises battling qualities after draw at Oldham

22 November 2017

By Chris Slavin

Neal Ardley felt that his players were off the pace in the first-half at Oldham, but he was pleased with the resilience they showed to gain a hard-earned point.

Speaking in his post-match interview after the 0-0 draw, Neal said: "The boys were carrying a few injuries and and we had wanted to stick with the same team that won so well on Saturday. Jon Meades was one who we felt would struggle because he felt a bit stiff and we had to be careful not to throw him in three times in a week after he had been out for four months. That was the only change. The boys struggled a bit and I thought Oldham were good on a heavy pitch. They move the ball around well and we just looked off the pace in the first-half. We were fortunate to come in 0-0 at half-time.

"We changed things in the second-half and we were better on the ball. We had more good spells in the game, without really looking like we would score. We had to be resilient at the back because they had a lot of threat and they are in very good form. In the end it was a very good point. We probably stole a point, but we have probably lost points that we did not deserve to this season."

Neal was full of praise for goalkeeper George Long's performance and he saluted the commitment of a squad weakened by injuries in recent weeks.

"George was excellent," added Neal. "He made some great saves at important times. They put their bodies on the line, Baz Fuller the same. We lacked that bit of zip and energy about us and due to that we ended up doing more defending than we would have liked. They will feel they have dropped two points and rightly so because they were the better team, but we showed real grit and character. We fought hard for the club and got a clean sheet.

"The 18-man squad we had for this game is all we have got at the moment. Will Nightingale is not quite ready yet and he will probably have a game for Alan Reeves on Wednesday. Callum Kennedy is still out and so too is Kwesi. We have nine players – first teamers and Under-23s – on the treatment table. The boys have got to try and see us through this period, that's what I've just said to them. They are really fit, we work them really hard, and their stats are great, but they looked like they carried a bit of Saturday into this game. They had to dig in to come away with a point."

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