By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley saluted his players for executing a tactical game-plan that defied in-form Charlton on a proud night for AFC Wimbledon supporters and everyone connected with the club.
A rousing atmosphere helped the Dons pull through against a side chasing promotion and the manager was quick to highlight the tactical awareness shown by his players in a pressure situation of trying to stay up in League One.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "I don't think people will realise how good a performance it was. I watched Charlton's last four games and I wish I hadn't. I turned up on Monday morning and said, 'blimey, since Lee Bowyer has taken over they've been outstanding'. They had out-played Rotherham, out-played Plymouth and Northampton, and they were the better team against Bristol Rovers for long spells. We had to come up with a way of winning this game. Tactically, shape-wise, having Joe Pigott back in training gave us the option of playing two strikers, which I'd not had for the last few weeks.
"We decided to be brave, press them high, and make it a game that they did not really want to play in. Technically, they have some outstanding players, and it took so much energy from our players, they had to be so switched on. Yesterday we tried to put a session on with a lot of tired bodies, players trying to recover from Saturday's game. We had to try to get the message across and get the intensity into the training session, to show them what would happen if we got certain things wrong.
"The message was clear and I always try to give the boys clarity. I said to them, 'you will win this game if you are brilliant without the ball. They are that good with the ball that you will cause them problems. That was as bad as they have been for five games now and that was because of how foot perfect our players were. It is a great three points. It was an incredible performance and we need to try and give another high performance on Saturday."
The manager added that the backing from AFC Wimbledon supporters had made a big difference in the last two matches with his side having now picked up four points out of six against play-off chasing teams.
"It's a two-way thing, it always is," said Neal. "We always try our best to put a performance in. Every game is different. On Saturday I felt a positivity as soon as I walked in the stadium. I felt people were really behind us and really wanted us to win. I felt the same for this game. Fans were chanting my name and the names of the players. They were right behind us and making noise. Every game is like a cup final to them. We cannot guarantee we will win a game for them, but if they do that for us and we run around and give it everything, it is a really powerful combination."
The full post-match reaction from Neal is on our iFollow channel via the link above.