Neal Ardley summed up his disappointment with the manner of today’s defeat against Portsmouth, which came after a first-half that he described as ‘unacceptable’.
“We’ve lost a game of football, we didn’t turn up for 45 minutes,” said Neal. “I defend the boys, I always try to be honest. If we play well, whether we win or lose, I always say the performance levels were good. Today, the first-half was totally unacceptable. It is not a Wimbledon team, it’s not a Wimbledon performance. I’m a Wimbledon boy and I know what these fans want, and we didn’t deliver at all. Second-half we did, it was too late. We’ve got to change things around now and we’ve got to come in next week and get it right. We have to get it right.
“I just tried to get through to half-time to effect the game and it shouldn’t be that way and I apologise to the fans for the first-half. I’ve learned a lot about the group this week. There were certain things we were trying to do, certain things we wanted to get back to, that we cannot do. We tried to do them, but we haven’t been good enough to do them. We will have to change some bits and bobs around and we will have to make sure that we’re a much better team than we were today. We will work on it from Monday morning."
Neal felt that the players showed in the second-half a bit more of what’s required to start putting points on the board and he also explained that Joe Pigott had to come off due to a bout of sickness.
In response to a question about what changed in the second-half, Neal said: "All three substitutes, plus the players going out there and playing the way Wimbledon fans expect them to play: giving everything, running hard, competing, winning battles, putting yourself about, and making a game of it. That’s all it took in the second-half and it’s unacceptable that the first-half wasn’t that.
“In the first-half we lacked confidence, lacked tempo, lacked belief, and lacked a bit of everything really. Portsmouth didn’t do much, other than play forward, run forward, run with pace, and win their battles. Then they took their chances that we gifted them. We take something from the second-half, but the first-half was unacceptable. Again, it’s no points on the board.
“Anthony Wordsworth pulled out of training yesterday, his Achilles was sore. Scott Wagstaff had a slight hamstring strain on Thursday, so he had to miss out. Tyler Garratt came in feeling behind his knee after the warm-up. Joe Pigott came in, we had sort of made our substitutions and he told me he was all right. I did the subs with him staying on the pitch and then somebody came out at half-time and told me that Joe was throwing up in the dressing room. Barchy was injured with his calf too. We had a delay to the second-half because we had to change the sub we had already made.”
The full post-match reaction with Neal is available to watch by clicking on the link to our iFollow channel above.