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Neal: it was an even game for 65 minutes

Manager's post-match verdict after defeat at Rotherham

3 February 2018

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Chris Slavin

Neal Ardley said that he could not fault Wimbledon's performance for 65 minutes against promotion contenders Rotherham today, but he was disappointed with the slow start from his players.

The Dons allowed Rotherham to take a grip on the game early on and that meant Wimbledon had to chase the game against an in-form side with an impressive home record.

Speaking during an interview for iFollow, Neal said: "I cannot ask for anymore from the boys, as far as performance levels go. I think the only thing that sticks a little bit in our throats is how we started the game. We knew what they would do, it has been a fortress for them at home, and they come at you. We did not quite do what we said we were going to do in our preparation. When we stick together, players and staff, and we execute what we are trying to do, we are a very good team, but for 20-25 minutes we did not quite do that. We found ourselves behind, but from then onwards it was a very even game. They had chances on the break, particularly in the second-half, and we certainly had some good chances to equalise.

"Rotherham function really well. They have a good tempo about them; they cause you problems and get at you. They put crosses into your box and they have strength and energy. It was an even game for 65 minutes. I said to the players in there that when we stick together and do the game-plan, we are a really good combination. We will try to get back to that on Tuesday. We need to try and get back to winning ways, or at least start picking up points again. I cannot fault the boys in the last five or six weeks. They have been outstanding and for 65 minutes today we did really well.

"You cannot just say it is a hiccup and move on. You have to address some of the issues when you don't play well, or when you don't score goals, but we are working on it. The boys have given everything with energy and aggression in a really tough game. Last week we had five chances and scored four goals. This week we had three really good chances in the second-half. If we had scored one, we could be sitting here with something in the bag, but it did not happen and we got punished late on."

Neal added that captain Barry Fuller missed the game due to a calf injury, but he was left out as a precaution with a busy spell of matches coming up.

"Barry trained yesterday and felt his calf," said Neal. "It was at the end of training and we did not do a lot, we just got the journey out of their legs. He woke up this morning and it felt a bit sore and with all the games coming up, we did not feel it was worth the risk. It was a late call and we made a change, but that did not contribute to the defeat. What contributed to the defeat was not coming out of the blocks as hard as we should have."

The full interview with Neal is available via the link to our iFollow channel above.

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