Wimbledon’s Cox expecting ‘a battle’ as goal-shy strugglers go head-to-head at Sixfields

AFC Wimbledon assistant boss Neil Cox
AFC Wimbledon assistant boss Neil Cox

Assistant boss Neil Cox says AFC Wimbledon are expecting ‘a battle’ when they come up against fellow strugglers Cobblers at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The soundbites coming out of both camps ahead of the weekend clash are very similar, with the Cobblers going into it off the back of that 6-0 horror show against Bristol Rovers, and Wimbledon after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 at Oxford United.

The talk from both teams is of ‘focusing on what we do’, on proving those results ‘were a one-off’, and ‘staying positive’.

AFC assistant boss Cox was the man put up before the media ahead to the trip to Sixfields, and he very much went with what seems to be the party line for both clubs.

“The lads are really looking forward to Saturday,” said the former Middlesborough player.

“They know that they all have to roll their sleeves up because it will be a bit of a battle, but let’s hope that we get that little bit of luck on the day.

“We’ve worked hard all week and the players are determined to prove that last week was a one-off.”

The Dons were beaten 3-0 at the Kassam Stadium, and they arrive at Sixfields on a poor run, having not won in Sky Bet League One since September 16 - when they claimed an 1-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers - and having claimed just five points out of the past 24 available to them.

But Cox insists the players have responded well to their loss at Oxford, and that the club’s recent results haven’t been reward for the team’s performances.

“We’ve had an excellent reaction,” Cox told afcwimbledon.co.uk. “On Tuesday we put them through their paces with a double session and we watched DVDs of the game; we went through the mistakes and the good bits too.

“The staff are working 100 per cent. We are questioning ourselves and looking at different players in different positions.

“We are making sure that there is positivity around the place and also putting a smile on their faces. When you have a smile on your face, you perform better, and that is what we’ve tried to do this week.”

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has made it clear that this week’s training sessions were all about getting things right as far as his own team was concerned, and that he wasn’t going to focus too much on what Wimbledon are going to do.

And Cox said: “I am expecting a tight game on Saturday.

“Northampton had a disappointing result at home, but Jimmy (Hasselbaink) had done a good job for the first two or three games and it is going to be difficult.

“They are going to be well organised and they will probably get behind the ball, but we are going to go there in a positive frame of mind and try to win the game.

“It’s about what we do and about us playing well. Apart from the Oxford game, we’ve played really well and created chances, but we’ve not taken them.”

Like the Cobblers, who have failed to find the net in the past five matches, Wimbledon have been struggling to score goals, netting just twice in their past eight league games, with none in their past four.

And Cox said he and boss Neal Ardley have been working hard to get the team scoring again, ahead of the trip to Sixfields.

“We conceded two goals on Saturday by getting more people up the pitch,” he said. “It cost us really because we got picked off and we have to look at that ourselves.

“We are trying to get more forward thinking players on the pitch, but defensively we have to switch on a bit more too.

“It’s not just about the forwards and everyone has to give that extra 10-15 per cent. If we do that, we will get the right result.”