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Neal praises response from players after hard-fought win

Post-match reaction from the manager

10 March 2018

Neal Ardley praised the positive reaction from his squad since the defeat against Blackburn after Wimbledon earned a battling victory against Oxford today.

Captain Barry Fuller led by example with a ferocious, but fair, first-half tackle that got the home crowd going and in the second-half Wimbledon produced a much-improved display to clinch three points.

"Barry wears his heart on his sleeve, that is in his character," said Neal, in his post-match interview for iFollow. "I had felt that we were losing too many of those 50/50 tackles and when you are down there fighting, you cannot afford that, but I need to praise the boys. With no game last week, we worked them really hard and they have responded well. Everyone is going to be in good form down there and we need to keep chipping away for what we need. I think we are at least 11 points short because there are so many teams in good form down there."

"It was hard work, graft, and probably a little bit of luck at some point with the decisions and the goals, but I thought we defended well, particularly in the second-half when we changed our shape slightly. I have a group of players who really care and it is just trying to get the anxiety and stress out of them because they want to do it so much. We want to try and take the situation that they face in the next 10 games away from them and get them to play football to the best of their abilities."

Neal brought on match-winner Jon Meades and striker Joe Pigott at half-time and he felt that a half-time change of shape put Wimbledon on the road to victory.

"Our stats when we've taken the lead have been exceptional, we have not lost," added Neal. "Whether it was a stroke of luck with the penalty or not, we got it, but it was a really poor goal for us to concede. We felt that we wanted to be brave, to get at them at home, and to play two up. Normally, when we play that way, we step on and people attack. We sometimes go three versus three at the back or sit a midfielder in and go four versus three, but I felt we were apprehensive in that. The wing-backs did not go forward enough because they were not quite sure. We did not hold the ball up well enough. Before we knew it, they were getting down the sides and we looked a bit open.

"We always have a chat between the staff before we see the players at half-time and I had the gut feeling we needed to change it. The staff agreed and it was just a case of how best to shape the team in the second-half with the remit of being better without the ball. We wanted to be less open because we felt we would get chances and that would be enough to win the game."

The full post-match reaction with Neal is now on iFollow via the link above.


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