By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley said he was “gutted” that his side dropped two points against Gillingham, but he felt it was a much-improved performance from the Dons.
Speaking to iFollow after the 1-1 draw against a Gillingham side reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time, Neal said: "It is two points dropped and we are gutted about that. We needed to get back to what we are about and I had a look at myself. I don’t think I have been as down as I was at the weekend about where the team was at and what part I was playing in it.
“Maybe I have tried to put too much into the process of playing a bit of football; drawing people into holes and getting quality into good players in the right areas. There has been too much information and today I just said that I would pick a system that allowed them to run hard and play high intensity football. I did not want them to think about what pass they were making, I just wanted to get that intensity back and ask the opposition to deal with it.
“After 10 minutes of the game we could have had four by that point. Their keeper was amazing, our attacking was exceptional, and in the end we have paid for a slip up right on half-time. I had not enjoyed watching us play at times this season and I have to take responsibility for that. We started the season well, but we lost confidence with the slower that we got in our play. We tried to get back to our roots today and it was good. We have a different challenge on Saturday, but I cannot ask for anything more from the players. We need to try and get our mojo back and try to get points.”
Seventeen-year-old Anthony Hartigan again produced an assured display for one so young in the midfield engine room, earning the man of the match award, and Neal praised his performance.
“With a ball at his feet, he is mature beyond his years, I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the lad,” said Neal. “He beats himself up when he does things wrong and he felt disappointed with their goal on Saturday. To come out today and put in an assured performance like that shows what he is all about. He has a great future, the boys love him, and the staff love him. I thought he did exceptionally well.”
Neal said that he had watched Lee Martin’s sending off and it definitely warranted a red card after he struck out at Lyle Taylor. Our manager also felt that Gillingham were fortunate to get away with another red card after Liam Trotter was denied a goalscoring opportunity in the first-half.
The full post-match reaction from Neal is now on our iFollow channel and an interview with Andy Barcham will follow on Wednesday.