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Cook: AFC Wimbledon Match Will Define Our Season
Monday, 12th Apr 2021 13:37

Boss Paul Cook believes Tuesday evening's game at AFC Wimbledon will define the Blues’ season.

Town go into their first ever match at the Dons’ new Plough Lane stadium sitting eighth in League One, three points off the play-offs, having played a game more than sixth-placed Lincoln City, with seven fixtures remaining.

They have drawn three of their last four 0-0 and have won just two of the nine games since Cook took charge just over a month ago, both at home.

Asked what he has made of Wimbledon, who are 20th, a point off the relegation zone, this season, Cook said: “We’ve just played Wigan, Rochdale and MK Dons, who are obviously a little bit higher in the league, and there was nothing in the games

“You would never know that we’re one big club and someone else is in a relegation fight.

“The games are a little bit a much of a muchness. A margin in the game wins the game. I think Wimbledon have gone away from home and had a fantastic result on Saturday [they won 5-1 at Accrington].

“That will absolutely buoy their lads to the top of their tiptoes because they’ll see us coming into town now as a scalp that they want to take.

“They will be bang up for the game and they will put it up to us from the first minute.

“It’s a massive game for us this season, it will define our season in my eyes.

“We have to go there and win. We have to go there and create more chances, we have to be so much braver in our play. Can we do that? Watch this space.”

Cook will again be assessing whether to make changes of personnel and his system as he looks to improve Town going forward with the Blues without a goal in 259 minutes and even worse without a shot on target in 218.

Tomas Holy will start in goal having made one or two important saves against the MK Dons on Saturday and Cook will probably stick with a back four.

Kane Vincent-Young is back in the squad following his hamstring injury and could start, which would see Luke Woolfenden drop to the bench.

Skipper Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala will almost certainly be the centre-halves with Stephen Ward probably at left-back although with Myles Kenlock an alternative.

In midfield, Cook could continue with Flynn Downes and Teddy Bishop in the centre, although Andre Dozzell is another option.

Out wide, Cook has options with Dozzell having started in a narrow left-sided role on Saturday and Gwion Edwards on the right. Alan Judge, Keanan Bennetts and Armando Dobra are other alternatives.

Tristan Nydam impressed from the bench on Saturday but is unlikely to be considered ready for a start with the weekend game his first senior competitive appearance for precisely two years.

Dobra might be more likely to continue in the role he played on Saturday behind the main striker, who will be James Norwood if the ex-Tranmere man is considered fit enough.

Otherwise, Aaron Drinan or Oli Hawkins might get the nod, the former Portsmouth man having not yet made a start under Cook. Kayden Jackson is another option assuming the ex-Accrington man, who wasn’t involved at the weekend, is fit.

Wimbledon, the only side in the division Town haven’t previously faced this season, claimed a surprise 5-1 win at Accrington on Saturday, only their second victory in 11.

At home they have won just one of their last six - a 1-0 defeat of Northampton late last month - with their overall record an unimpressive won four, drawn four and lost 10. They have picked up only 16 of their 39 points on their own turf.

The Dons will be without centre-half Ben Heneghan, who was sent off in the final minute at Accrington at the weekend for two bookable offences. Paul Kalambayi is expected to deputise.

On-loan Leicester defender Darnell Johnson and midfielder Callum Reilly remain sidelined, while forward Corie Andrews is continuing his recovery from injury but is not expected to face the Blues.

Town and AFC Wimbledon had never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture since the Dons’ formation in 2002 until last season’s games.

The Blues first and only match at Kingsmeadow in February last year ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw.

Town dominated possession throughout and hit the bar throughout James Norwood in the first half, while a number of better opportunities were spurned in the second.

At Portman Road in August 2019, Kayden Jackson’s goal deep, deep in injury time saw the Blues come from behind to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory.

The Dons went ahead via Nesta Guinness-Walker in the 41st minute in a poor first period from Town.

But the Blues were much better in the second half, equalising through Norwood in the 81st minute before Jackson smashed in the late winner.

The Dons squad includes former Blues youngster Shane McLoughlin, who made one Championship sub appearance and one League Cup start for Town having come through the academy. The New York-born Irishman joined the Dons from the Blues in January 2018.

Keeper Sam Walker, who signed on loan from Reading in January, was a Portman Road season ticket holder as a child.

Tuesday’s referee is Antony Coggins from Bicester, who has shown 72 yellow cards and four red in 24 games so far this season.

Coggins’s last Town game was the 1-0 home victory over Gillingham in October in which he booked Bishop, Dozzell and one visiting player.

He was also in charge of the 1-0 defeat at Rotherham in January 2020 in which he booked Woolfenden, Emyr Huws and one Miller.

Coincidentally, he also refereed the 2-1 home victory over AFC Wimbledon in August 2019 in which he cautioned Janoi Donacien and three of the visitors.

Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Vincent-Young, Chambers (c), Ward, Nsiala, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Dozzell, Skuse, Nydam, Judge, Harrop, Bishop, Downes, Edwards, Bennetts, Lankester, Sears, Norwood, Jackson, Parrott, Hawkins, Drinan.

Photo: TWTD

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mow_the_lawn added 14:05 - Apr 12
If we win, it’ll keep the hope alive until the weekend, but if we drop points and Lincoln and Portsmouth both win, that should be it for us then, and I’d then expect more experimentation and rotation on the remaining games as Cook runs his eye over who he wants to keep for next season. A win is only a good result if you can build on it in subsequent games. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve not had good results and somehow or other still seem to be near the play offs.

mow_the_lawn added 14:05 - Apr 12
If we win, it’ll keep the hope alive until the weekend, but if we drop points and Lincoln and Portsmouth both win, that should be it for us then, and I’d then expect more experimentation and rotation on the remaining games as Cook runs his eye over who he wants to keep for next season. A win is only a good result if you can build on it in subsequent games. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve not had good results and somehow or other still seem to be near the play offs.

TimmyH added 14:20 - Apr 12
Predicted a draw on Saturday tomorrow we'll lose, we've been even worse away than at home (though we haven't been beaten at home for 8 games a number of those games have been poor and 0-0's).

Sixto6 added 14:21 - Apr 12
What’s happened to Huws ?

MickMillsTash added 14:30 - Apr 12
If we lose and Wimbledon stay up - we can go to Plough Lane next year and get a new ground tick.
Am I alone amongst Town fans thinking like this?

itfcserbia added 14:46 - Apr 12
Cookie decided to put pressure on the players and rightly so - let them prove they are worth it.

PortmanTerrorist added 15:10 - Apr 12
ANOTHER season defining match.....had one almost weekly since Feb ! Actually think we were saying that when we went to Burton in January !!!!

All that tells you is that we have missed a host of chances to show we are deserving of a Play-Off spot, but somehow this league is so bad that we have not fallen out of the reckoning completely however hard we try !

TimmyH added 15:14 - Apr 12
We've been so inconsistent even if we did win and play better probability says come next match we won't so not defining in my opinion more probable if we lose.

arc added 15:26 - Apr 12
I like the way Cook is ratcheting up the pressure. I was worried on Saturday that he might be leaving, but it looks like he's coming out fighting. I hope the players pick some of that spirit up from him.

ChrisFelix added 15:53 - Apr 12
Why is it suggested that Woolfden drops to the bench. Same with Kenlock over Ward.
There are better alternatives as the club needs to look to the future. Our best performance this year was when Captain Calamity was left out

cat added 16:16 - Apr 12
Completely agree ChrisFelix. How many players (going as far back as J.Parr at right back) have been sacrificed to shoehorn that fraud of a player in? These days he’s keeping the youths out but unfortunately you wouldn’t bet against him getting a contract extension for next season, despite the fact he is our worse ever captain, certainly in my life time.

DifferentGravy added 16:24 - Apr 12
Like everyone else been utterly dismayed at the majority of performances this season (not just the last few weeks). Always trying to find a crumb of hope.... which usually results in another wasted tenner. But yet again.....Im buoyed by the return of Downes, Nydam, Norwood and KVY to the squad.

COYB.....its now or never.......well, until next season anyway

dirtydingusmagee added 16:39 - Apr 12
Well on paper you would think aside from Charlton we should grab these last points ,but in reality, our performances have been woeful,and the new manager new owner bounce has not happened.The only positive thing i can see is that surely we cant play any worse. When the axe does fall ,the players have only themselves to blame,All have had a chance to shine, to standout and claim a contract ,If PC means business he will have no qualms in ridding the club of dead wood and those that dont ''cut it''.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 16:46 - Apr 12
It's "vinna eller försvinna" as we say in Swedish, usually translated as "Stand and Deliver," more literally as "win or disappear." In other words, the last chance of the last chance saloon. I'm not optimistic, but hopeful as always. COYB!

tetchris added 16:59 - Apr 12
It’s hard to believe that no one in the team has decided to take a shot from outside the box at all we just want to walk the ball in the net

Suffolkboy added 17:00 - Apr 12
Cant think this well qualified professional Manager does not already have very shrewd ideas about who is to be retained and who to dispense with .It is, however, quite the wrong moment to reveal any thought or even give an inkling of his ideas ( though it seems,and regrettably rightly , that Hyws is a gonner !) .
It’s the time for driving on with what we have ,but in no doubt about a better future .

tractorboybig added 17:02 - Apr 12
err you are saying our season has not been defined????????

Toronto_Tractor added 17:25 - Apr 12
Im feeling optimistic here!! 0-0

TexacoCup added 17:31 - Apr 12
Record breaking ifollow purchases tomorrow ?

ringwoodblue added 18:10 - Apr 12
Please Cookie, drop Chambo and Ward, they are too slow

I’d like to see the following team:

KVY Woolf Nsiala Kenlock
Lankester Downes Bishop Nydam

grinch added 18:59 - Apr 12
@ringwoodblue Wolfedon has been poor this season Lancaster has done nothing Nyam, Downes Dobra Norwood an KVY have all just come back from injury will they last for 45mins let alone 70 just think your line up is throught with an ability to not last the pace at all and you say Chambers and ward are slow ?

ringwoodblue added 19:13 - Apr 12
@grinch. You make very valid points but how many of our players have played for 90 mins in any game this season fit or otherwise? What lineup would you go for?

Help added 19:16 - Apr 12
Sixto6 - Huws is in Liverpool

Help added 19:22 - Apr 12
Okay, PC wants us to be more positive. I am positive we will lose this match based on form. Players prove me wrong.

barrystedmunds added 19:59 - Apr 12
I'm just waiting for a performance that indicates to us, the fans, that there is reason for optimism. So far, it's been a false dawn. Defensively, we've probably tightened up, but otherwise we've been agonisingly poor. While others around us appear to be up for the challenge of a play off place, we seem decidedly lacklustre.

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