By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley paid tribute to a great team display after watching the Dons brush Rotherham aside tonight.
The manager was quick to salute Lyle Taylor's finishing prowess after his superb hat-trick, but he also recognised the contribution of the 'unsung heroes' who helped to nullify a Rotherham side with five wins out of six before this game.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "I am delighted. We had a game-plan because Rotherham are a very good team. Paul has done a great job with their recruitment after the disappointment of last season. They have players who can hurt you from the sides, players who can cause you all sorts of problems. We had players tonight who were unsung heroes. They will not get talked about as much, but Darius Charles, Will Nightingale, and Tom Soares had to do jobs for the team so that we could limit what they could create. That gave a platform to the other players to go forward.
"Ultimately, you need that confidence and quality in the final third. For the first goal, Tom Soares broke up play and showed good vision to find Andy Barcham in a pocket of space and Andy showed the vision to slide a ball through to Lyle Taylor. It was top quality and something you find at a higher level. I did not think that we deserved to find ourselves at 1-1. Although they were trying to put pressure on us, I felt that we had defended our box really well. To concede from a volley 25 yards out that went through a crowd of bodies was tough. Then you felt that the momentum could swing their way."
Neal praised the character shown by his players after that setback and Lyle Taylor's quality in front of goal.
"The coaching staff made a couple of tweaks in our shape at that point and credit to the players on the pitch for showing good character to go on and win the game. Sometimes you cannot do it on the training pitch. The boys were trying to get their bodies back to normal after Saturday's game so we had a video session today. They had been a massive threat from corners, but we defended them well. At the moment, we are in that mode of not worrying about style so much, but we are trying to put a bit if substance into the group to pick-up results. It is great when your striker catches fire like he did tonight.
"We are super positive with them (the forwards). We keep encouraging them and we've worked hard on getting them into good areas. For Lyle to take his goals the way he did, considering he has been low on confidence, was great. When he got put through for the first one, most people would snatch at it, but he lifted it over the keeper. He deserves credit for the character shown, but the second and third goals were great too."
The full post-match reaction from Neal is on iFollow and an interview with hat-trick hero Lyle Taylor will be on our premium channel later on.