Neal Ardley admitted that playing on an artificial pitch was a ‘massive factor’ in AFC Wimbledon’s FA cup tie at Sutton United.
In the build-up, the Dons boss had downplayed the influence the Sutton United 3G surface.
After the 0-0 draw, Ardley acknowledged it played a huge part in his team’s performance.
“I was very concerned about the pitch and tried not to allude to it too much in the press,” he said.
“The ball runs faster, and you can’t play through balls from too deep an area because they will run out of play.
“We tried to work on certain patterns but they marshalled us well and I give them a lot of credit.
“Their home record in the last 18 months shows how good they are on it and Paul (Doswell) said in one of his comments that teams don’t like coming and playing on this pitch.
“I knew that it wouldn’t suit us and we had to have a lot of qualities today to be in the hat for the next round.”
Wimbledon rode their luck at times and Sutton striker Maxime Biamou came very close either side of the break; poking narrowly over the bar in the first half and forcing James Shea into a low save on the hour mark.
Ardley praised his team’s fighting qualities that kept them in the cup despite the home side having the better of the tie.
“I think they edged it and I expected them to,” he said.
“We had backs against the wall at times but they didn’t open us up.
“A lot of their chances came from our disorganisation but they’ve got some good players.
“We weren’t fluent but we’ve dug in and made sure we’re in the hat.”
In the second half at Gander Green Lane, Dons skipper Barry Fuller was tripped by Bradley Hudson-Odoi in the box for what looked like a clear penalty.
Ardley thought the same thing initially but has since revised his view of the incident.
“My initial thoughts were that it was a stonewall,” he said.
“People I’ve spoken to have said that it’s a 50-50.
“It’s a really crucial decision to make with four minutes to go in such a tie and the referee may have erred on the right side there.
“He had a good game so I’m not going to say that he was wrong.”
We thought, as Dons are still in it, you might like to see the all-time top 20 FA Cup successes in the video above. Have a look!