sport

Determination pleases Ardley

AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley believes his side showed character in abundance as they beat Southend 4-2 on penalties in the JPT.

With two minutes of normal time remaining, Wimbledon had been heading out of the cup as goals in each half from Jack Payne had cancelled out Kevin Sainte-Luce's 16th-minute equaliser.

Dons midfielder Harry Pell had also been dismissed after 18 minutes for a dangerous tackle on Dave Worrall but centre-back Adam Barrett forced penalties with a curling effort late on.

And with the hosts holding their nerve from the spot, Ardley was impressed with his side's resolve.

"It was obviously always going to be a tough game and they started really well," he said.

"To go one down early on in the game, I thought the character we showed to come back into it was excellent.

"I've been asking the boys to be brave and try things that we work on in training and it is really pleasing to score with a move right off the training ground.

"They scored a good goal from long-range but we dug in and then my centre-half ends up up-front somehow and scores a goal he probably won't score again.

"It was absolutely a red card for Harry Pell, it was a poor tackle. But I felt we should've had a penalty just before half-time and Adey (Adebayo Azeez) says he was caught.

"I was very irate at that point because there was a lot going against us but the character of the boys turned it on its head."

Substitute Matt Tubbs scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after Southend's Lee Barnard struck the post and James Shea saved Ben Coker's spot-kick.

United manager Phil Brown said: "You are going to be dominant playing against 10 men and the game should have been dead and buried.

"But they threw caution to the wind in the last five minutes and they had a right-footed centre-back scoring with his left foot from 25 yards, which will be a rarity.

"He was there to put the ball in the back of the net and we didn't defend it well, which was naive on our behalf.

"To draw 2-2 against a team playing with 10 men for 65 minutes is a poor night's work. The likes of Dan Bentley and Jack Payne - the ones we managed to keep hold of after a lot of inquiries for them, I'm delighted for the future of the club.

"But in this division we can't turn down financial streams and we've wasted an opportunity to go into another tie and be only five or six games away from Wembley."