BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neal Ardley was left frustrated at another costly individual error as AFC Wimbledon lost 1-0 at home to Bradford City.
The Dons ended their wait for a victory at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday as they beat Oxford United 2-1.
But they failed to build on those three points as Bradford, who had lost their last four away games, secured a first win for manager David Hopkin.
The big moment came just before the break as Dons skipper Deji Oshilaja tripped George Miller. Substitute Jack Payne stepped up to beat Joe McDonnell.
Ardley said: “I was just about getting ready for my half-time team-talk – I just wanted a bit more quality and belief in the final third. Other than that I thought we were dominating and the better team; you’re one individual error away from losing a game.
“It’s a clearance down the channel. Number one, we should read it, because it’s the only place the ball is going. We’re lazy in our defending – we stick a leg out – and we go 1-0 down in the 44th minute.
“It’s an individual error that has cost us. Then we’re chasing the game in the last 10 minutes and got a bit erratic. We got our chances but we were a mistake away from getting something out of the game.”
Asked if Oshilaja deserved to concede a spot-kick, Ardley replied: “I don’t know whether it’s soft or not. Deji gets square but then you show him line or make him cross the ball and try and stop the cross. When you leave a lazy leg out and somebody shifts it…you run the risk. I haven’t seen it back.
“The one thing Deji has got to learn for his own development is he can’t let those moments affect him because the three or four minutes after and five in the second half it did. He takes it personally and it affects his composure in the game. We don’t do blame culture – we look at things as a team and we win and lose as a team.
“There’s not bundles wrong with the performance. We had good energy and created chances but I’d rather get back to the Oxford one where we took our two chances and defended well.”
Joe Pigott stuck a first-half chance into the sidenetting as Bantams keeper Richard O’Donnell went missing on a bouncing ball in the box. But the keeper also spectacularly pushed away a Tom Soares header from Mitch Pinnock’s deep corner.
Jake Jervis also thought he had scored in the second half with a desperate clearance on the goal-line – with appeals the ball had crossed the line.
Substitutes Anthony Wordsworth and Kwesi Appiah also spurned good opportunities in the closing stages.
Ardley said: “We were all up and thought that one [the Jervis header] was in. On Saturday we didn’t play great, had two chances against Oxford – we scored them both, defended well and won the game.
“Today we’ve made one error, missed all our chances and lost the game.
“We wanted to have a bit more steel and know-how about us – the season we got promoted we cut out all the errors from Christmas onwards and made teams have to score good goals against us. We got 45 points. So far this season I can count 10-12 goals this season where you go: ‘It’s an error, we’ve got to do better”. Nothing we can do but keep working on it.
“It’s hard chasing games. The tide will turn hopefully – we’ll take our chances and limiting errors. When we do that we’ll start winning games.
“Our main fault today was final third stuff – our crossing and finishing. We just lacked a bit of belief and composure at times.”