Neal Ardley relieved after AFC Wimbledon win eases relegation fears

AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was relieved rather than jubilant after watching his side return to winning ways with a nervy 2-1 victory over Oxford.

Substitute Jon Meades hit the winner with his first goal in 16 months to lift the Dons three points clear of the League One relegation zone.

Wimbledon’s Lyle Taylor had opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half – after Todd Kane was adjudged to have fouled Harry Forrester – and although Kane made amends to equalise six minutes later, Meades tapped in Taylor’s free-kick to claim all three points.

‘I always say that the pleasure of winning goes out of the window nowadays – it’s more a feeling of relief that we’ve got the points on the board,’ said Ardley.

‘I thought we were a bit nervy in the first half – the boys know what’s at stake, we can’t hide that. They want to do well and the nerves kick in at times.

‘We weren’t brilliant, we weren’t fluent, but there was bundles of effort and energy, and we took the moments when they came.

‘I wouldn’t say we deserved to win; neither team did enough to win the game. I think a draw would have been the fair result but the margins went in our favour.

‘I didn’t have a view of the penalty decision, there were too many bodies in the way, but I know how angry Derek (Oxford caretaker boss Derek Fazackerley) is with it. Would I be happy if that was given against me in that circumstance? Probably not.’

Fazackerley was frustrated by the penalty decision with the U’s caretaker manager admitting he was dismayed at the call made by referee Chris Sarginson.

‘It was a very, very strange decision and ultimately it cost us two points,’ he said. ‘Todd had no intention of tripping the lad up, and he didn’t even know he was there.

‘Also, the ball was ten yards away, so how it could be deemed a penalty I have no idea. I’ve never seen a stranger penalty decision.

‘Ultimately the game was decided by two set-pieces: one of which we couldn’t do a great deal about, the other we should have done better with.

‘Other than that, from our point of view, the game was good. I thought we dominated the game and created one or two good opportunities that we didn’t manage to put away. They came more into it in the second half.

‘Ultimately it’s another defeat, which is worrying. It’s frustrating but sometimes things don’t go for you in football and that was one of those days.’