By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley praised the second-half response from his players after they produced a stunning turnaround against Walsall today.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "We were guilty of starting the game poorly. For 15 minutes we were really lethargic for some reason. Walsall started brightly, but they played on Wednesday. The intensity we played at on Tuesday is not an excuse. We were just not focused. In the first couple of set-pieces we were not marking our men, then they scored from one where we did not hold our line, which is something we work on.
"There were a number of things we were not happy with. In the first 15 minutes we were second to everything, but I thought once we got going in the last 25 minutes of the first-half we were the better team. We were going forward and getting into some good areas, it was just that finishing touch. Obviously, the injury to Harry Forrester was the first blow and Tom Soares was carrying an injury and could not carry on.
"At half-time we had to look at a few things. I had to do certain things with certain players. One or two I had to really challenge to raise their game. We changed our shape, we went super-brave, and I just said to the boys, 'we haven't done it all season, so now is the best time to do it, see it as a challenge'. In the second-half we were incredible.
"Confidence is a huge thing in football. I thought we played well at Shrewsbury and against Fleetwood in difficult conditions. We were the better team against Scunthorpe and should have won that game. I'm trying to make them believe we are not a bad team when the run-in is there in front of us. We are a long way from doing what we need to do, but we've given ourselves a great chance because today was that game that we needed to do it."
A total of 733 travelling Dons supporters roared the team onto victory and Neal was delighted to reward them with a crucial win.
"You try to get results to send the fans home happy," added Neal. "We always appreciate the fans who come a long way. I think we've had a really positive week. We called for positivity before the Scunthorpe game and the fans responded. The players have responded to them. I spoke to someone at Charlton and he said the atmosphere on Tuesday was intimidating for them to play in and that's brilliant. Today the boys were brilliant, but the fans were immense.
"We've pulled each other through. We've had a really good week, but we are not there yet. Next week we have a game that everyone will put importance on. We need to go into it as fans with no expectations. Don't get stressed if it is not going how it should be. Treat it like the Charlton game, treat it like we are playing a top team who are good, because they (Oldham) are good. Cheer everything we do, no matter how the game is going, because at the moment that is making a huge difference."
Click on the link above to watch the full interview with Neal on our iFollow channel.