Play-offs are still in reach for Ard­ley

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By El­iz­a­beth Owen

DE­SPITE a fifth game with­out vic­tory, AFC Wim­ble­don boss Neal Ard­ley is adamant his side have enough to claim a play-off place.

An evenly-matched con­test with More­cambe only ex­ploded into life late on, Andy Flem­ing putting the hosts in front with 14 min­utes to go and Jamie De­vitt dou­bling their ad­van­tage from the spot.

With Ryan Sweeney sent off af­ter con­ced­ing the penalty, ten-man Dons fought back through Ge­orge Fran­comb but couldn’t find an equaliser.

But Ard­ley be­lieves they are “ab­so­lutely ca­pa­ble” of win­ning the ma­jor­ity of their re­main­ing fix­tures to seal a top-seven fin­ish.

He said:“I don’t like us­ing ex­cuses, but they looked like they didn’t have a mid­week game and we looked like we did.

“In the se­cond half we were much bet­ter, but mo­ments can change games.

“They took the lead – a bad goal for us to con­cede – we go down the other end, Lyle Tay­lor does ev­ery­thing right and hits the post.Within sec­onds, it’s 2-0.

“Credit to the boys, they showed un­be­liev­able char­ac­ter with ten men. It’s a dif­fer­ent story if Ade [Azeez] had scored at the end.

“But we’ve got to get our heads up. Are we ca­pa­ble of win­ning six out of our last ten? Ab­so­lutely.”

Sub­sti­tute Flem­ing marked his re­turn from sus­pen­sion with his third goal of the sea­son, net­ting from close range af­ter good work by Shaun Miller, to be­gin the fran­tic fi­nale.

It was the spark the Shrimps needed, as Tom Barkhuizen then won a penalty af­ter be­ing dragged back by Sweeney, giv­ing De­vitt the chance to fire home from the spot.

Mo­ments ear­lier, Tay­lor had rat­tled the post for Dons, be­fore Fran­comb’s low shot in the fi­nal sec­onds of nor­mal time set up a close fin­ish.

The vis­i­tors had a glo­ri­ous chance to snatch a point at the death, but Ade Azeez could only blaze wide from close range.

For More­cambe it was a first win in 11 games and man­ager Jim Bent­ley be­lieves it was well over­due.

He said:“We just about de­served it.Wim­ble­don are a good side so we knew it was go­ing to be tough, but we played well and cre­ated good chances.

“I am a bit dis­ap­pointed in our game man­age­ment af­ter the send­ing-off, but as Wim­ble­don were down to ten and had noth­ing to lose, they put bod­ies for­ward.

“When you haven’t won for so long it can get nervy and you could sense that, but we held on.

“Per­for­mance-wise, we’ve been do­ing al­right and haven’t had that rub of the green. Now we have and hope­fully we’ve bro­ken the cy­cle.”



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