Neil Ardley was one cool customer on Tuesday night as AFC Wimbledon convincingly beat foes Milton Keynes 2-0 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, and the Wombles boss believes it was that icy demeanour that won the game.
Having spent more than a decade as a player at the original Wimbledon and now AFC boss for five years, Ardley admitted his desire to beat Milton Keynes when the clubs met for the first time – at Stadium:mk in December – took over, contributing to the 1-0 defeat.
However, the boss was brimming with pride on Tuesday night after his Dons downed the Buckinghamshire imposters in south London in the reverse fixture thanks to goals from Jake Reeves and Lyle Taylor.
And Ardley believes the difference between the two games was ensuring the occasion didn’t get to his or the players’ heads.
“I kept my cool, I stayed calm but obviously I was a little bit nervous because I wanted to do the club proud and I wanted the players to do the club proud,” Ardley said.
“I thought the first half was a little bit of cat and mouse, there wasn’t too much in it. But at half-time we came up with a little game plan, we tweaked a few things and I thought in the second half we ran all over them.
“We focused on the game and picked a system which allowed us to go at them and play aggressively, on the front foot and press high. We had to tweak a couple of things at half-time.
“At their place, I think I pushed so hard for the win that I think we forgot to turn up. I kind of blame myself a bit but it was because I wanted it so much. In this game I took the opposite way round and was nice and calm and tactical and gave them the freedom to do what they did.”