No ‘long ball’ for Dons to down U’s

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Rob Miller

NEAL ARD­LEY de­fended his side against ac­cu­sa­tions that they are ‘long-ball Wim­ble­don’ in the wake of their dom­i­nant win over Ox­ford.

Sean Kelly scored a rare goal as AFC Wim­ble­don put their dis­ap­point­ing fes­tive pe­riod be­hind them with a de­served vic­tory.

Rob­bie Hall had opened the scor­ing for Ox­ford be­fore a first-half own goal from Yel­lows keeper Si­mon East­wood and a Kelly header de­liv­ered the three points for Wim­ble­don.

Ard­ley said: “I think we thor­oughly de­served to win. Their goal­keeper’s made two or three one-onone saves, we’ve had Whelps (Chris Whelp­dale) try and head a ball from a yard off the floor that he could have tapped in. We should have won by three or four.

“We tried to mix our game up. Peo­ple al­ways make com­ments in the press about ‘long ball Wim­ble­don’, but look at the stats.

“We’ve had all the chances; the pos­ses­sion stats are even – their goal­keeper’s stopped them get­ting a bat­ter­ing.”

Ox­ford boss Michael Ap­ple­ton dis­agreed with his op­po­site num­ber’s as­sess­ment, though he did ad­mit his team fell a bit short.

“We did OK,” he said. “I thought Hall was the real big pos­i­tive in the game for us – not just for his goal, he was dan­ger­ous and his gen­eral play was very good. We didn’t get the ball to him enough.

“We were in de­cent con­trol un­til they got the equaliser. Even once the game set­tled down at 2-1 I still felt pretty con­fi­dent.

“I’ve got to give the play­ers credit; it’s been a long time since we felt as dis­ap­pointed as we do here.”

Ox­ford did start the brighter, with Hall open­ing the scor­ing af­ter seven min­utes with a pow­er­ful dip­ping strike from 25 yards into the bot­tom cor­ner.

Af­ter that, there only looked likely to be one win­ner. Dean Parrett’s crash­ing long-range drive pro­duced the equaliser, ca­reer­ing back onto East­wood’s back an in. That was the cat­a­lyst for an all-out as­sault on the vis­i­tors’ goal from the Dons, and they should have won far more com­fort­ably, with Lyle Tay­lor and Dom Poleon guilty of spurn­ing mul­ti­ple clearcut op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ard­ley re­mained re­al­is­tic at his team’s prospects for the re­main­der of the sea­son ahead of Tues­day’s cru­cial FA Cup re­play with Sut­ton United. He added: “A nice FA Cup run and safety in League One, that’s our aim.”


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