By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley is expecting a much-improved Northampton side to provide a tough test tomorrow, but he believes a return to the Wimbledon form shown in January will reap rewards.
Since Wimbledon’s 1-0 win at Northampton in October, the Cobblers have shown improved form and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side were on a run of four matches unbeaten before a 1-0 defeat against Rochdale last time out.
“It feels like a while since we had a home game, we’ve only had two in the last five or six weeks. Our form on home turf has been okay lately and the atmosphere has been good at the game. After playing on the pitch at Bury, it will be nice to get back to our pitch, which is in good nick. We will look forward to it, it is the next game, and a chance to get some points on the board.
“Obviously, we are at home, and they have had the benefit of Saturday to Saturday games. We’ve had a midweek game, so we will try and have a look at where we freshen up, if we do, and bring some legs into the team. There were so many things wrong in the first-half (at Bury), so many things that came away from the core values that we try to instil into the team. We had certainly shown them in January.
“I think Jimmy has recruited really well. “Jimmy has recruited really well, and they have done some good business. They have brought nine in, reshaped the team, and had some good results, although they were disappointed last weekend. This is a game that both teams in their position are desperate to get something from, they don’t want the other team getting away from them, or overtaking them, so there is that element mentally.
“But there are plenty of games to go and plenty of points to put on the board, and we have to go out and approach it the same as any other game, and if we play like we did in January, we will be a hard team to play against.”
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
"We need a reaction. Everybody was down after the weekend and we want to put that right with a good performance. I am somebody who takes things to heart and we didn't do ourselves justice against Rochdale. We were on a good run before the weekend and now we need to try and put another run together.
"Neal Ardley has done a brilliant job at Wimbledon and he has a competitive team there but we need to concentrate on ourselves and our own performance. It needs to be about us and what we do."
Captain Barry Fuller is in contention for a return after missing the last two games with a calf injury, but tomorrow’s game will come too soon for Will Nightingale and Dean Parrett. For Northampton, striker Kevin van Veen could be handed his first start after making a late appearance as a substitute in the defeat against Rochdale.
Form guide (last six all competitions)
AFC Wimbledon LLWWDL
Last meeting (14 October 2017)
Northampton 0-1 AFC Wimbledon (Harry Forrester)
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