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Neal's post-match reaction after Walsall exploit slow start

Manager interviewed after four-match unbeaten run ended

25 November 2017

Neal Ardley said that his players lacked 'focus, energy and discipline' at the start of today's game after they allowed opponents Walsall to score goals that proved to be crucial in the end.

Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow after Wimbledon's fightback just came up short, Neal Ardley said: "I'm really disappointed with the way we started the game. The team talk and everything we worked on yesterday was about going hard and seeing what we had left in the last 20 minutes, but it took us half an hour to wake up. It took the staff changing the shape to get it going. We played 4-4-2 and we lacked a bit of focus, energy and discipline at the start of the game. There were so many things wrong with the way their goals came about.

"The boys had done brilliantly in the last few weeks, they had given everything, but they have come up short today at the start of the game. Probably for 50 minutes after that they have gone hard and we could have won the game 3-2 or 4-2 in that spell. We fizzled out at the end. As a manager, you try to read the game and tell them how you want to go about it. We knew that a faster game might not suit Walsall and that it would suit us, but then the discipline did not go through the team, and they did not do it.

"It is not tiredness, I am not going to blame that, and that is being mentally weak. Tiredness happens in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game. We were poor on Tuesday, but we dug in and nicked a point. Today was about making a fast start, going hard, and seeing what we've got left in the tail end. We did not do that. I am disappointed, but even through that and finding ourselves 2-0 down, we could have won the game 4-2, but we did not take our chances."

Defeat today ended a run of four games unbeaten and Neal added that the players have to put it quickly behind them with the incentive of an Emirates FA Cup tie against Charlton Athletic up next.

"The week started brilliantly with four points from two away games, but similar to when we had the Plymouth match, we've not been able to see it through in the last game of the week," Neal added. "That's disappointing. We have to start now and build new momentum, starting with the FA Cup. We need to get players fit. The boys who are out there, we need to freshen it up at times, but we've not had the options at times.

"Harry Forrester was literally out on his feet and he was out on his feet on Tuesday. I knew he would not last the game. He could not run, he had been booked, and he could have been sent off with one more bad tackle. He was feeling his hamstring and his calves. Barchy had to come off through injury and Darius was feeling the effects of the last two games, he looked tired. It (substitutions) was just to try and get fresh legs on, we did not change the shape. We tried to get a big man to arrive on the end of the crosses. We had hardly any attacking players on the bench. Whatever substitutions we make, they cannot be attacking because we don't have two forwards to bring on."

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