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Blues Host Wimbledon Aiming to Avenge Defeat and End Goal Drought
Friday, 23rd Apr 2021 13:28

Town host AFC Wimbledon on Saturday looking to avenge their recent 3-0 defeat at Plough Lane and aiming to finally end their 529-minute goal drought but with their season already effectively over.

The Blues are 11th, five points off the top six with four matches left to play and now have little or no chance of making the play-off barring a miraculous series of results.

Despite a disappointing record in his opening month and a half at Town - played 12, won two, drawn five, lost five - the Blues are unbeaten at home under Cook with both his victories - the 1-0 defeat of Plymouth and the 2-1 success against Bristol Rovers - having been on home turf where his side have also drawn twice.

Town scored their most recent goal in the 11th minute of that win against the Pirates on April 2nd, the now departed Alan Judge the man to find the net.

The Blues were comprehensively beaten by the Dons at Plough Lane, having been 2-0 behind and reduced to 10 men before the game was half an hour old and then conceded a third late on.

That win was the second in a run of four on the trot for Wimbledon, who as a result have climbed 19th, five points clear of the drop zone with only four of their games remaining as opposed to Wigan and Northampton directly below them who have only three to play.

Blues boss Cook didn’t want to get into discussing the Dons’ form at his pre-match press conference, preferring to concentrate on his own side.

“I have no concerns with AFC Wimbledon,” he said. “I've got no concerns with other clubs. Good luck to them. They're doing well and they're on a great run. I just don't have any interest in them.

“We’ve trained hard this week, we've got on the grass. As a staff, if you take pain or disappointment well and don't do something about it, the reality is you'll keep getting pain and disappointment.

“I don't like getting beat and I don't like getting beat 3-0. We came away from Charlton [where they drew 0-0] with a mild aspect of ‘OK, it was a fair result and we're getting better’, and then we get flattened again [at Northampton, also 3-0].

“We can't keep getting flattened, it's not correct. Myself and personnel must look at that, and you're going to do something about it we'll see at three o'clock tomorrow.”

He says that although there’s nothing left in the campaign from a competitive perspective, the Blues need to finish the season positively for their fans.

“For our supporters we need to show a strong mindset,” he told iFollow Ipswich. "We give goals away easily and don't score, and we have some moments in games but let them get away from us. It's a fragile culture.

“When we experience any disappointment it makes us go the wrong way, rather than facing up to it.

“But the next game is always an opportunity. The sun should be shining and we're playing at our stadium. Players shouldn't really need motivating in those circumstances.

“The motivation should come from the pride you feel wearing the shirt, and the disappointment when you get hurt. I expect a good reaction tomorrow. Of course we want to finish the season strongly, that's the aim.”

Cook may consider taking a look at Dai Cornell in goal, although wouldn’t comment when asked whether the Welshman, who is yet to feature since the change of management, might come into his thoughts at his pre-match press conference. Otherwise, Tomas Holy will continue.

At the back, Kane Vincent-Young seems certain to be at right-back, while Myles Kenlock could return at left-back for Stephen Ward, who has played the last two matches.

At the centre of the defence, Cook could look to recall skipper Luke Chambers, probably for Mark McGuinness, while Toto Nsiala could also potentially return for Luke Woolfenden assuming the former Shrewsbury centre-half is over the thigh problem which put him out of the ahead of last week’s game at Charlton.

In midfield, Andre Dozzell has been praised by Cook for his last two performances and will almost certainly continue alongside Flynn Downes.

In the wide roles, the Blues manager seems set to stick with Gwion Edwards on one flank but may prefer Armando Dobra to Keanan Bennetts on the other.

Teddy Bishop missed Tuesday’s game due to a minor illness but has shaken that off and could return to the role between the midfield and the striker.

James Norwood would play as the lone striker if he was fit but the former Tranmere man appears unlikely to be ready having limped off at Charlton with a hamstring problem.

Kayden Jackson started at Northampton but Cook could look at another of his strikers with Oli Hawkins yet to start under his management and Troy Parrott and Aaron Drinan the other alternatives.

Josh Harrop will serve the third game of his three-match ban for his red card in the away match against the Dons.

In contrast to Town, Wimbledon have scored 14 times in their last four matches, while conceding three.

Midfielder Callum Reilly is a long-term absentee following a broken ankle, while Ethan Chislett, also a midfielder, is on his way back from an achilles injury but won’t be ready to face the Blues.

Until last season, Town and AFC Wimbledon had never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture since the Dons’ formation in 2002. Each side has won one of the three games played since then with the other ending in a draw.

Eleven days ago the Dons comfortably beat the Blues 3-0 at Plough Lane with Will Nightingale, Jack Rudoni and Ryan Longman scoring the goals.

Nightingale headed in the opener on 21, Rudoni nodded home the second four minutes later, then in the 28th minute Town’s Josh Harrop was shown a straight red card for a late challenge.

Sub Longman added the third in the 86th minute to complete a thoroughly miserable evening for Town.

In the only game between the sides at Portman Road in August 2019, 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.

Saturday’s referee is Ollie Yates from Staffordshire, who has shown 91 yellow cards and three red in 28 games so far this season.

Yates's last Town game was the 2-1 win at Plymouth in December in which he dismissed Pilgrims winger Danny Mayor for two bookable offences and yellow-carded Cornell, Brett McGavin and two other home players.

His only other Town match was the 0-0 home draw with Doncaster Rovers in September 2019 in which he booked Downes and five of the visitors.

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

Photo: Matchday Images

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dirtydingusmagee added 13:30 - Apr 23
Good luck.

barrystedmunds added 13:52 - Apr 23
I’ll not hold my breath for either!

BettyBlue added 14:06 - Apr 23
We've gone from scoring the occasional lucky goal to no goals at all.

Who do you blame the players or the coaching?

Revie added 14:19 - Apr 23
The defence has been reasonable this season but with some awful blunders. Tuesday’s third goal suggested to me that Tomas Holy had little faith in his two central defenders: recall for Luke Chambers vital.

Northstandveteran added 15:55 - Apr 23
There is obviously animosity behind the scenes between Cook and the players.

They clearly don't want to play for the new boss and he slates them at every opportunity.

This season is dead now and as far as I'm concerned, results and performances are irrelevant.

I shall maintain my usual stance of,

Expect nothing, then I won't be disappointed.

Looking forward to an interesting summer and a show of intent from the new owners.


chepstowblue added 16:00 - Apr 23
0-5 on aggregate.

cromwellblue added 16:22 - Apr 23
Some interesting articles today. All is clearly not well and this has perhaps come from some honesty and desire from Cook that previous mangers were not prepared to show and it's upset a few player ego's

Both previous mangers hinted at issues and if you think back to Hurst, his assistant Doig had reputation for working the players hard and was much slated on this site for it. I wonder now if we are finally seeing the truth about our squad.

3 managers so far unable to get anything out of this bunch, so you have to conclude they are not the "Strongest squad in the division" as we have bee repeatedly told.

I'd fear for Cook if ME was still the owner but with new backers and hopefully some decent cash for buying players you have to support this guy and give him the chance to back up what he says. He has a decent record elsewhere so he's as good an option right now as anyone else.

The player know by now what he wants so they shape up or ship out.

Barty added 16:45 - Apr 23
The law of averages says we must score soon !!

rgp1 added 17:06 - Apr 23
I don't doubt the managers honesty and all that. Unfortunately he needs to do less bumping of his gums and get on with managing the team that got 50 points in 30 games but what he feels fit to constantly slag off in public. For those of you who vote down, just remember Mick Mills said the other week there is a big danger in wiping out your starting eleven and rebuilding again.

TimmyH added 17:11 - Apr 23
The law of averages say we'll eventually take a shot at goal which is off target but gets deflected in...maybe this match or the next but it won't be through a slick master class of passing and a decisive finish.

RobITFC added 17:36 - Apr 23
Can anyone explain why the players are so poor, surely even if they know they won 't be here next season they are putting themselves in the shop window, it will be interesting to see where the ones who leave end up and how they play, I am sure they have just given up!

ImAbeliever added 18:11 - Apr 23
Not scoring is not down to recent coaching. These are professionals paid to ply there trade!

dirtydingusmagee added 18:39 - Apr 23
really ,does ANYONE care anymore ,This season is history,these players are history, this manager , mmmmmmm watch this space.

bluesince76 added 19:10 - Apr 23
Can't really judge cook until he has assembled his own team but results will need to be good early on at start of season I suspect new owners will pull the trigger early if things carry on the way they are.

Gforce added 19:27 - Apr 23
Ipswich 0 Wimbledon?

Vanisleblue2 added 19:33 - Apr 23
For what its worth my team would be:
Cornell, VY, Kenlock, Downes, Chambers, Nsiala (Wilson?), Bishop, Gibbs, Dobra, Norwood (Jackson), Edwards

Gforce added 19:35 - Apr 23
Rgp1........ Cookie has no choice but to wipe out most of the starting eleven, as 80% of them are cr@p and barely good enough for league 2.

norfolkbluey added 20:06 - Apr 23
How long does it take for a sinking ship to hit the bottom. Possibly 4 matches. All I can say is its a good job we have enough points to not go down. Its been hard enough treading water in this league. All rests on PC next season's 10 results because by then we'll know what kind of management skills PC has with his own players and rid of the current losers.

TractorJed added 21:08 - Apr 23
5-0 Ipswich

BromleyBloo added 21:17 - Apr 23
Don’t play the loanees unless you have to as they will all likely just return to their clubs - Parrott is the only one, however little, that has shown anything anyway; play our own, especially the developing players like Dobra and I’d like to see Nydam given another opportunity. If Norwood’s not available, give Hawkins a chance - recent matches have proved we have no other striking options!

Next season I hope we also have a good look at Mizouni and especially Ndaba, who I thought showed real potential in pre/at the start of the season.

dirtydingusmagee added 21:45 - Apr 23
Tractojed, calm you down , deep breaths . its just a dream .

shakytown added 21:48 - Apr 23
The hardest part Paul will be finding 11 players at the club who give a s..t.

Monkey_Blue added 22:52 - Apr 23
I’m sorry but whether they are his players or not Cook has seen us decline significantly. Of the first team squad, given he was here more than two years count the permanent Lambert signings. 5? The two keepers, Norwood, Wilson, KVY. I’d say judge but of course he’s gone. What is cook doing publicly deriding his players? The best don’t do it in public except rarely. He’s blown the play-offs so he might now be worried someone else will be spending the pension funds money in the summer if he can’t say it’s all on the players. Shocking form, shocking performances. Making Lambert look better than he was

billys_boots added 22:56 - Apr 23
TractorJed you beat me to it, I was going to say 5-0 Town. So I’ll go 6-0 and 3 red cards (Holy, Downes and Cook. Dons to miss a penalty). Now it’s meaningless they’ll probably perform.

Europablue added 08:22 - Apr 24
bluesince76 Even if we start next season inconsistently, I don't think that will concern the owners, and for me personally too, all I demand are signs of improvement. It will be an achievement just to halt the fall and start the long climb. If I see all the players putting in real effort and attempting to play good football as a team, I will be satisfied. I expect us to be up there at the end of the season in the mix for the playoffs. We're not that far off the playoffs and we were close to Peterborough for much of the season and we have been awful this season.

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