Neal’s not down­cast even in drop zone

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Stephen Ma­hon

AFC WIM­BLE­DON are now in the rel­e­ga­tion zone in League One as their poor run con­tin­ues – but boss Neal Ard­ley sees plenty of signs of en­cour­age­ment.

Ard­ley’s side were held to a goal­less draw at Kingsmeadow, dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory against Rochdale but never re­ally carv­ing out a se­ri­ous chance of note.

The Dons have now only scored two goals, and won once, in their last seven games and drop to 21st in the table, not that Ard­ley ap­pears too con­cerned.

“Peo­ple talk about one win in six, or seven, as it is now,” he said.

“But I ac­tu­ally think in the last five games, we have played well.

“There are en­cour­ag­ing signs there with some of our ap­proach play, and if you can’t win a game, you must make sure that you don’t lose it. But we need to im­prove and we know that.

“We were looking to win and if any­one was go­ing to score, it was go­ing to be us.

“But we looked a bit flat first half, which is a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of the re­sults we have had re­cently.

“We lacked in­ten­sity in our game early on and that is some­thing we will need to look at and work on this week; start­ing games bet­ter.

“We started the sec­ond half well, but couldn’t keep that up and over­all, we just lacked that fi­nal ball or bit of qual­ity that you need to un­lock a side like Rochdale.”

After fail­ing to win any of their first six league games, Keith Hill’s Rochdale ap­pear to have turned a corner.

Andy Bar­cham came clos­est to a goal for the hosts with a curler in the first half and a blocked ef­fort on the re­sump­tion while Barry Fuller’s an­gled drive also forced Josh Lil­lis into ac­tion.

Up the other end, Don­er­von Daniels’ header forced a save and Dale held on for their fourth clean­sheet on the spin in all com­pe­ti­tions.

But, hav­ing shored up the de­fence, at­ten­tions have turned to the at­tack.

“De­fen­sively, I thought we were ex­cel­lent,” said Hill. “Wim­ble­don havent been on a great run but we knew it would be a bit of a bat­tle here.

“But we have to show more com­po­sure on re­gains. We’re a pass­ing side but I don’t think we utilised our skills go­ing for­ward.

“There has been a lot of con­cen­tra­tion on keep­ing clean sheets, de­fend­ing and be­ing as­sertive against our op­po­nents.

“But when we have got the ball, we have got to be bet­ter.

“We have got to be more creative.”

NI

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