Gray day damp­ens Ard­ley’s come­back

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Dan Ross

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.”

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