Wim­ble­don boss Neal in dream­land

Warwickshire Telegraph - - SPORT - Andy Sims

NEAL Ard­ley branded AFC Wim­ble­don’s play-off fi­nal hero­ics “sur­real” as they con­tin­ued their fairy­tale rise with pro­mo­tion to League One.

Lyle Tay­lor and Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa fired the Dons to a 2-0 vic­tory over Ply­mouth as Wem­b­ley hosted the mother of all birth­day par­ties.

They have now been pro­moted six times since the cur­rent club was formed by sup­port­ers at the Fox and Grapes pub, in Wim­ble­don, 14 years ago to the day.

And boss Ard­ley, a for­mer player with the old Wim­ble­don, said: “It’s im­mense, it’s what you dream of. It’s sur­real and it hasn’t re­ally sunk in.

“To stand there in front of 20 to 25,000 peo­ple, who 14 years ago had their club ripped away from them. To be there in front of them, as one of their own, hav­ing joined at the age of 11, you can write what­ever you like.”

Af­ter a cagey first 78 min­utes top scorer Tay­lor broke the dead­lock when he tucked in Cal­lum Kennedy’s cross.

And deep into stop­page time Dons sub­sti­tute Ade­bayo Azeez was tripped in the area by Jor­don Forster.

Man moun­tain Ak­in­fenwa de­manded the ball from reg­u­lar penalty taker Kennedy and slammed his last touch as a Wim­ble­don player home to re­ally get the party started.

As Ak­in­fenwa, who is now out of con­tract, urged other man­agers to get in touch about sign­ing him next sea­son, Ard­ley pitched for a role in the pro­posed AFC Wim­ble­don movie.

Scriptwrit­ers want to tell the story of the club from when they first held open tri­als on Wim­ble­don Com­mon in 2002 to their pro­mo­tion to the Foot­ball League just nine years later.

But Ard­ley in­sisted: “The movie was go­ing to end when they got into the league but now they have got to ex­tend it to Wem­b­ley! I’ve got to try and get a part in it now.”

Pro­mo­tion also means AFC Wim­ble­don now find them­selves in


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