Neal Ardley felt that Rochdale deserved to win today’s game, but he praised the defensive resilience that helped earn a vital point against an in-form side.
Speaking during a post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: “I thought Rochdale played really well. I’ve been telling the players all week about how well they’ve been playing. People look at Rochdale down there, but every manager who has been up against them recently has said how well they are playing. They are in a good place. They have a very tough schedule, but they don’t seem to be letting up. It was important that we got something out of the game. We did not play great, but we managed to do that. George Long and our players at the back had to dig in. They had to put their bodies on the line and in the end we are delighted with a point. They are probably aggrieved.
“We had two or three good chances in the first half an hour, but as the game wore on they got on top. You can look at the quality and say it was not great from us. We did not pass it well enough or have enough rhythm, but you can also look at the resilience and the effort and say that it was fantastic. They probably deserved to beat us on the day, I thought they were the better team. I think you could see the mentality swing in that we were trying to hang onto what we had, but they were going for it because they needed the win.”
Neal added that he changed it around on the hour in an effort to quell the pressure with Andy Barcham and Harry Forrester entering the fray.
“We had to defend our box very well several times and I thought in the first-half that they opened us up too easily,” Neal said. “We worked hard during the week on how to play against them and we tried a few different things in training. We tried to make sure they knew their jobs, the lads felt more comfortable matching up. I thought it worked quite well for 20 minutes and we had a good threat to us, but the longer the game went on, the more they grew into it.
“We came and tried to have a go, we played two up top and tried to match them. It worked well early on, but then they got on top and about an hour in we just felt we were sitting ducks. We were getting pinned back, so we brought on Barchy and Harry to give us that bit of travelling with the ball, to get us out of situations, but Rochdale were too much in the ascendancy by that point. In the end, we are delighted with a point.”
Neal confirmed afterwards that Darius Charles missed the match due to a hip injury, but it is not serious. The defender told the management on the morning of the game that he did not feel he could get through 90 minutes and it was therefore decided to bring in Will Nightingale.
The full interview with Neal is available to watch via the link to our iFollow channel above.