Neal Ardley applauded Dominic Poleon for graft as much as craft after the striker returned to goal-scoring form in AFC Wimbledon’s FA Cup replay rout over Bury last night.
The boss has been easing his summer signing back into action following groin problems, but took a punt on throwing him into the fray against the Shakers just 20 minutes in following an injury to Andy Barcham.
The former Leeds and Oldham striker responded with a double in what became a 5-0 stroll.
However, it is the way Poleon has now taken on the less glamorous side of a forward’s duties which has really impressed his manager.
“Dom did great,” said Ardley, “he did exactly what we know he can do. His finishing is excellent and he is a threat.
“He is slowly buying in to what we expect from our strikers because as we saw with Tom (Elliott) and Lyle (Taylor) last year, it is a bit of a culture shock when they are being told they have got to work harder defensively than anyone else on the pitch.
“They look at you as if to say ‘can’t I just stand up here and score,’ but Dom is getting there, like Lyle, who tonight was phenomenal. He ran everywhere and that is Lyle Taylor at his best.”
If Poleon and Taylor were the good news on a night of ruthless finishing, Barcham and Jon Meades, whose latest attempt to return from a persistent ankle problem failed in the warm-up, were the worries.
Ardley was big enough and honest enough to admit both problems were of his making.
“I’m disappointed I made a couple of bad judgement calls,” he added
Jon Meades was my call and I’d toyed with leaving out Barchy because he’d just starting to look like fatigue was building up, but Tom Elliott was ill so I put him in and it’s been proven my eyes were right and ended up in a muscle injury.
“Barry Fuller’s knee problem which he’s had for two or three weeks is not going away either and he’s battling on with it, so we are needing to count the bodies.”