Jefferson Lake’s Wimbledon v Cobblers view and ratings: Boothroyd gamble pays off - just

UNIMPRESSIVE - Ishmel Demontagnac struggled to have any influence in the 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
UNIMPRESSIVE - Ishmel Demontagnac struggled to have any influence in the 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Aidy Boothroyd gambled at Wimbledon on Tuesday night and he won - just.

His decision to take four players out of the side that won at Southend for a game against the division’s bottom team was a very interesting one.

To make one of two changes, to save legs and lungs for a run of three Tuesday night games in a four-week spell, would have made good sense.

But to take out the entire midfield that played at Roots Hall was a major risk, albeit one that in the end turned out well for the side.

As well as resting players, Boothroyd felt he needed to get some game time into some of the underused fringe players to keep their spirits high during a run of inactivity.

Which is all well and good but is this the time and the place for such things?

And, of those currently out of the selection frame, surely Jake Robinson deserved to get a run-out ahead of, say, Ishmel Demontagnac, who did little to suggest he will be troubling the first team again any time soon?

Aside from resting and rotation, Boothroyd must have felt the team he selected would have enough quality to take something from Wimbledon, and suggested that a point would be enough.

When combined with the three from Southend, it provided a good return from two difficult away games, and one that is perhaps above expectation.

At Wimbledon they very nearly burgled all three when Chris Hackett broke clear - despite looking at least two yards offside - and saw his shot well saved.

Such an outcome, though, would have been harsh on the fired-up home side.

In both games they were fortunate at times but played with good resilience and were rarely sliced open by their opponents, both of whom played with spirit but little overall class in terms of end product.

But taking something from the immediate match in hand was only half of the gamble.

Its success will really be measured against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, when the likes of Ben Harding and Luke Guttridge will be expected to play with a freshness derived from a night off.

Tuesday night’s team selection perhaps represented the first time that the manager’s planning for a sequence of games was made public in tangible form - it was clear players were rested with the two forthcoming home games in mind.

Town’s record at Sixfields is one of which they are enormously proud, and they clearly wanted their key midfield players revitalised for a home double-header to give them every chance of maintaining that record.

So while the gamble paid off at Kingsmeadow, the real rewards should - in theory - be reaped closer to home.

Jeff’s player ratings


Took every cross that came into his area and kicking was excellent throughout ...8


A safe and steady performance from the full-back who executed all the basics well ...6


Not one of his busier or more influential games and guided the troops through it ...6


No major highs or lows to speak of, more of a ‘steady hand on the tiller’ contribution ..6


Caught out by his man once or twice but is getting fitter and sharper with each game ...5


Did little to suggest he will be given a run in the side at any point in the near future ...5


Looks better in the middle of defence but provided energy in midfield and picked out some good passes ...6


The main creative force of the side, tried to play football and was very harshly booked ...7


Not his best outing in a Cobblers shirt and picked up a yellow card that means he is now suspended for two games ...5


A quiet night but deserves credit for the consummate certainty with which he despatched the penalty ...6


Took up a good position and bravely challenged Sullivan for the penalty that proved to be the game’s crucial moment ...6


CHRIS HACKETT (for Collins, 62mins)

Double-marked as usual and will want to have done better with his breakaway chance ...6

CLIVE PLATT (for Demontagnac, 72mins)

Inch-perfect flick header put O’Donovan away for the chance the led to the penalty ...6

JAKE ROBINSON (for O’Donovan, 81mins)

Not used: Guttridge, Snedker, Harding, Oyeleke