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Neal praises composure of new-look Dons side

Manager's reaction after opening day victory

4 August 2018

By Chris Slavin

Neal Ardley saluted the impact of Wimbledon's debut boys in today's victory against Fleetwood Town and he was delighted with his side's overall performance.

Speaking to iFollow after the hard-fought 1-0 win at Highbury Stadium, Neal said: "I thought we controlled spells of the game. On the first day of the season there is an excitement from the fans, but the lads are quite nervous because it's that first chance to put your marker down. I was worried that we might come out all guns blazing, but lack a bit of composure, but we had great composure. We showed the stuff that we had worked on during pre-season and we did it really well. I thought when we got our noses in front we played the rest of the game well and we could have scored three or four.

"We set-up really well without the ball and then second-half they tried to be a bit more direct and to cause us a different problem, but we dealt with both. We got a little bit of fortune with the shot that came back off the post, I thought that had gone in, but other than that I could not fault anyone. I thought the boys who made their debuts were exceptional. I thought it was a really tough one for Ben (Purrington) to come in and to know his job on the first day. It was a toss up between Ben and Tyler (Garratt). We know how good Tyler is too. I thought it was an outstanding debut from Ben. His one versus one defending was exceptional and his quality was exceptional. There are loads of positives from today, but the main thing is that we got the three points."

Neal was pleased to reward the 371 Dons fans that made the trip all the way up to Lancashire.

"We want to put out a team that the fans are proud of," added Neal. "I think today the fans will be proud of what they have seen with the effort and determination that the boys put in for the shirt. Joe Pigott has come up with the goal, Barchy did great with the flick-on, and it's a really good start. Probably the only slight criticism was that we did not finish the game off. The boys in midfield, considering it was three versus two against them, you would not have noticed with the work that they got through, and they made sure we did not lose the midfield."

The full interview with Neal is on our iFollow channel.

The picture above shows Ben Purrington in action on his debut today (photograph by Craig Galloway, Pro Sports Images).

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