By Rob Cornell
Long (pictured) thwarted a Bradley Dack header, late in the second-half, to deny the home side a point and deliver another clean sheet. The Sheffield United loanee left the manager in awe of his last-ditch heroics.
“It was incredible,” said Neal in his post-match interview. “I kind of had my head in my hands there, thinking it was in. He changed direction and it’s a wonderful save.”
The full post-match reaction from the manager is available to subscribers of our premium iFollow Dons channel.
Neal had much to be pleased about as AFC Wimbledon produced the near perfect team performance, as they recorded a 1-0 win and their first away League One victory of the season at Rovers.
“I’m immensely proud. I had a good feeling about it and I felt we got a little bit of our identity back against Gillingham on Tuesday.”
“We had a good day’s training on the way up here and I didn’t say too much other than ‘you set your standards, now let’s stick with it with your work rate’.
“We knew we had to defend here, as they’re a good team and were on a run of four wins. I thought in the first half, my only criticism was that we could have pressed on a little bit and maybe got a second goal.
“For one spell we had them a little bit all over the shop. For the last fifteen minutes they got on top of us and got more of a control of the game.
“In the second half we came out with the mindset of trying to go and press high and get in their faces again, but they were so good and had us pressed back. We had to spend large spells defending our final third, which we did brilliantly.”
Neal felt goal scorer Kwesi Appiah was in top form against Rovers, to cap a great week for the Ghanaian international.
“I thought he was brilliant and I thought he was excellent against Gillingham. Against Blackburn, I thought their two centre-halves couldn’t cope with him for an hour. It was a great goal.”
The Dons boss was also keen to point out the contribution of even the non-playing members of the squad, who are on the way back from injury.
“It was a real team effort. We had Darius Charles and Tom Soares travel up and if you listen to them they are immense in how they push the boys on even though they are a game or so away from fitness.
“They were in a 20 man squad on Tuesday and they travelled all the way up to Blackburn and did the same again. Hopefully getting players like that back in will leave the boys looking round and it will spur us on.
“The team deserved to be unchanged from Tuesday and they’ve done really, really well.”
Pic credit: Simon Davies (Pro Sports Images).