Neal Ardley praised Wimbledon’s attacking quartet today after they combined to put Bristol Rovers to the sword at the Memorial Ground.
Our manager was delighted with the work ethic shown by the whole team, including the front four, as Wimbledon won for the first time at Bristol Rovers since promotion back to the league in 2011.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: “I had a good chat with the front four on Thursday and talked about how they can play to their strengths, but not weaken the team defensively because we had been very solid without the ball. Sometimes you put attacking players on and that is their game, but defensively it is not. Today, I thought they did both parts really well and we need to try to keep that going.
“These are players who can make a difference. We always say to them that you have to do certain things in training to get us into the final third. Once they are in there I always say, ‘take risks, make things happen’, I don’t want them to be safe when they are in there. Certainly, that was the case with the movement that led to Barchy’s goal and the movement that created Harry’s goal, and his finish. Lyle had an open goal, Cody had an open goal, but the movement, passing, and runs that went into it was great.
“If you have Barchy and Harry on the pitch, they have to do their jobs for the team. I had said to Harry, ‘you have to do your job, track runners’ which he did brilliantly. Then you will get your moments. He has enough quality to get those moments. Today, he had two or three, just as much as the others did.
“Cody was laughing in there because he cannot believe the one he missed in the first-half. What was great to see was that straight away two or three of the boys ran over to him and said, ‘get your head up’. He is such a great lad and they love him. It just shows what sort of man Cody is. He showed unbelievable touch to pull the ball out of the air and then it was a great finish.”
Neal added that there was disappointment in the changing room about conceding a late goal at Bristol Rovers, but it did not take anything away from the team performance on the day.
“I’ve not got great memories of this place,” said Neal. “I’ve sat in this room a few times and had to explain defeats and how things had gone against us, but today we started really bright. The only worry was that half an hour in, you are thinking, ‘hurry up and take one of the chances’. I felt we could regret it, but luckily we did take our chances in the end. We certainly created really good chances, but I said to the boys beforehand that we had to come and out-run them. We had to show work ethic and we could not come up short in that department or we would get punished.
“The boys were fuming in there because they conceded a goal. It’s a great place to be in when your back four and keeper are absolutely livid. They were trying to work our what happened and they were pointing fingers at each other. I am standing there saying, ‘well done, it’s all good’. But it’s great because they all wanted a clean sheet and they are devastated that they did not get it.”
Look out tomorrow for video interviews with Neal Ardley and Harry Forrester, plus extended highlights will be on iFollow.