Lacklustre performances has Ardley returning to basics

Dons lack the basics of how to be a football team, says Ardley

Now what do we do: Dons' relegation form is cause for concern for Ardley and assistant manager Neil Cox

Dons man on loan: Brentford's Jake Reeves went straight into the side defeated at Exeter in mid-week

First published in Sport Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley says his players lacked everything needed to be a football team in the dismal display at Exeter City.

The 2-0 defeat at St James Park on Tuesday night leaves the Dons just one point above the League Two drop-zone, and means Ardley has won one game in six since taking over one month ago.

The Dons make the long trip to York City on Saturday in the league, before York repay the favour in the FA Cup first round replay on Monday at Kingsmeadow - but before both games, Ardley wants a return to the form when he first took over.

He said: "The Exeter performance was disappointing all round. The boys were well prepped before the game, we had fresh faces in the team and  we made some changes from Saturday's game to freshen it up.

"There should have been players in there who had good energy in the legs, but they didn't, and that was the most disappointing thing.

"I said to the boys at half-time and at the end that it was not a tactical issue.

"There was simply a lack of energy, a lack of desire, a lack of aggression, a lack of communication and we played like individuals. Those things are the basis for consistency, and we had none of it."

He added: "I would have put it down to a bad day in the office if we had not had a bad day in the office against York City at the weekend. 

"After the initial games against Fleetwood, Bristol Rovers and Gillingham - I don't count the Cheltenham game because I was only there in body - I saw a more positive team. But in the last couple of games I have not seen it.

"The boys know they have let themselves down."

Ardley handed debuts to loan signings Jake Reeves, from Brentford, and Jonathan Meades, from Bournemouth.

He said: "Jonathan was the outstanding player, and Jake was certainly one of our better players. 

"I don't think having the two new lads in had any bearing on the manner of our performance.

"We lost the battles at the back where their forwards caused us problems and we lost the battles at the other end, where their centre backs won everything.

"And when you lose it at both ends, it makes it very hard to get a foothold in the game."

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