By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley said the players deserved credit for maintaining AFC Wimbledon's League One status after a hard-fought draw at Doncaster Rovers.
Unbeaten since the home loss against Fleetwood, the Dons showed plenty of character to get results when the pressure was on and it was enough to seal survival with one match to spare.
Speaking during his post-match interview for iFollow, Neal said: "There were nerves out there, I'm not going to lie. You try to stay calm, but the pressure down the bottom is a lot tougher than winning the play-offs. When you reflect and look at the budgets of some of the other teams that have already gone down, it's no mean feat to stay up. We are not saying, 'what a wonderful season we've had, everything has been brilliant, and we deserve loads of pats on the back'. We are saying that with six games to go we went on a six-game unbeaten run when the pressure was on and the squad really fought for each other. We've got out of it when other clubs haven't. We have to improve for next season, that is a given, but we deserve some real credit for the way we handled the run-in.
"I said to the boys afterwards that we should all go over and celebrate together with the fans. I am glad the fans got to enjoy it. We can all take a deep breath now and look forward to Saturday. Not to celebrate us being wonderful, just to celebrate the fact that we are a League One team. That should not be taken for granted. We can look forward to Saturday and after that look at how we are going to improve next season."
Neal added that he felt his squad deserved a point at Doncaster, especially after producing a strong finish that almost snatched victory at the Keepmoat Stadium.
"We knew that the pitch was not going to be great," said Neal. "We brought Jimmy in there to play alongside Jon Meades, so that we had two strong workers in midfield and the flair of Deano and Barchy either side. We played two up front away from home again because we wanted to try and win, we did not want to just play for the draw.
"It was a whole team responsibility to defend. We thoroughly deserved a point. It was a nervy performance, but the players have come together and fought for each other. On a bobby pitch, it was a poor game. We had to defend to stay in it and we did that. We had chances near the end to win it and we deserved a point."
The full interview with Neal is available to watch via the link above to our iFollow channel.