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Neal: It was substance over style

Manager's post-match reaction after 2-1 victory

29 September 2018

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Neal Ardley said that a first home win of the season for Wimbledon was all that mattered today.

Our manager admitted that it was far from his side’s best performance of the campaign, but he was pleased that the players showed grit and determination to grind out victory.

“The lack of flowing football was down to me and I’ve been at them all week,” said Neal. “I’ve been like a bear with a sore head. I’ve been miserable and I got into them. It was all about substance over style, grit and determination. Although we had been playing some nice stuff, we had become a bit soft and easy to attack and we had been missing some of the vital ingredients needed to win games of football. Probably because I’ve gone so far that way we’ve turned up today and not moved the ball well, not run off it enough.

“Some of the flow to our football wasn’t there, but credit to Oxford as I thought they were the better team on the day. We dug in, we took our chances, got the lead and we defended well for the rest of the game. Joe McDonnell hasn’t had bundles to do. We showed some naivety at times, but the boys have done all that I’ve asked of them all week. We had been in that dressing room a few times saying how well we had played, but we lost. I’m not going to apologise for not playing well and winning.”

“We did not play well, they got into dangerous areas too easily, but Macca hasn’t had a lot of saves to make and that’s credit to everyone. Sometimes you just know it’s not happening for you with the ball and we lost that freedom to go and play. When that happened, we dug in. All too often in the past we’ve missed good chances. Today we did not have many, but we took them and we made sure we hung on in the end by doing all the stuff that wins you games of football. It was substance over style and the boys deserve credit for that. It’s all I’ve asked for all week. Today was about winning a game of football.”

Neal was pleased that his side showed a real clinical edge today with goals from Scott Wagstaff and Joe Pigott securing the points.

“We’ve worked really hard on movement in the box and ‘Waggy’ was on the move when he scored his goal. Jake Jervis played a massive part in the goal, as the ball has come in he has got across the centre-back and made sure the ball did not get cleared. That is what you ask for. ‘Piggs’ has taken the second goal really well. It is great. We hadn’t won a game at home. We had played well, but not won. Today, we haven’t played well, but we won.”

“Joe was tired so I decided to take him off, Andy Barcham was struggling, his energy levels were really low at half-time. In 15 minutes after half-time I did not see enough of a change from him. We needed legs and energy, we needed that to stay in the team. We needed fresh energy and I’ve got to make decisions to win games of football.”

The full post-match interview with Neal is available to watch on our iFollow channel by clicking on the link above.

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