Gray day dampens Ardley’s comeback
NEAL Ardley returned to the Wimbledon dugout following a hip operation only to concede his side threw away a golden opportunity against Northampton.
The Dons took the lead through Sean Rigg and Jake Reeves before two James Gray goals levelled for the Cobblers, all in a ten-minute spell.
The second half was toand-fro as both sides strived for a winner, but Ardley suggested the fatal damage had been done by lax defending for both goals.
Ardley said:“It’s obviously disappointing to go 2-0 up and end up with it at 2-2.
“When you go two up you think that should be the end of it, but then they go for it.
“I don’t think it’s technical, I don’t think it’s people sitting back on a lead, it’s just poor defending and people not doing their job properly.
“If I was the attacking players having put us 2-0 up, I’d be disappointed that we haven’t defended our box because that’s the defenders’ job to do.”
After an uneventful first half, Rigg found the net with an unmarked header and Reeves followed that up with a thunderous left-footed effort to put the Dons in a strong position.
Northampton then got their lifeline when onloan Accrington striker Gray powered in from close range before heading in a Brendan Maloney free-kick soon after to level – ending a fast and furious period at odds with the rest of the match.
Gray’s double followed his first for the club in last weekend’s victory over Luton Town.
And Cobblers boss Chris Wilder insisted he was the pick of a heroic showing from his plucky troops.
He said:“James was pivotal to all our good stuff, first and second half, and he was backed up by everybody else in the team.
“The character of the team was outstanding and I said to the players they were absolutely first-class.
“All my team do is run about and compete, try and play, and go from the first minute to the 95th.
“That’s all I want to see as a supporter of football. I want to see attacking football and I believe generally on the whole we do play attacking football.
“We try to get the ball down and play.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t do that in this instance but we showed commitment.
“We took a bit of stick from the fans when we went 2-0 down but you’ve got to stand up and be counted – and we did.
“Everybody wrote us off, but the one thing that I have learned here is that we’ve got a group of players that go right to the end.
“They played very well and deserved to get something out of the game.”