AFC Wimbledon may have suffered a nightmare start to the season, but Cobblers manager Rob Page will not be underestimating the Londoners when they roll up at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Neal Ardley’s team have lost all four of the matches they have played so far this season, going down in Sky Bet League One to Walsall (3-1), Bolton Wanderers (2-1) and Scunthorpe United (2-1) and also crashing out of the EFL Cup at Peterborough United (3-2).
AFC currently sit bottom of the embryonic league one table with zero points, but Page is wary of the threat they possess.
The Cobblers have opened their campaign with three straight draws and are hopeful of claiming their first league win of the season on Saturday, but the manager knows achieveing that it is going to be no easy task.
“It’s not been a great start for Wimbledon, but you can’t underestimate the boys at the bottom,” said Page.
“It is the early stages of the season, and the league table won’t show a true reflection of what is happening until maybe six or eight games. Then you will have a true reflection of the start you have had.
“The reports we have had on Wimbledon from Saturday is that they changed things in the second half and had a right go, and for 20 or 25 minutes they were the better team, so we cannot underestimate them.
“It is about recreating our levels of performance defensively, as we have shown, and then showing that improvement from an attacking point of view.
“We need to show the work-rate and commitment we have done in the last few games, and if we do that then we stand a good chance of winning the game.”
Like the Cobblers, Wimbledon were promoted from league two last season, coming up via the play-offs, but Page insists the fact they are not a big club or an established league one side does not alter his or his team’s mindset.
“The gameplan and our mental approach to the game doesn’t change whether you are playing a Charlton, who have come down, or a Wimbledon, who have come up,” he said.
“It is about what we do, individually and as a team.”
Wimbledon were one of the more impressive teams to play at Sixfields last season, securing a 1-1 draw in March with striker Lyle Taylor scoring a stunning goal in an eye-catching performance.
Adebayo Akinfenwa may have moved on, but Taylor is still leading the Dons’ line, and they also kept hold of the powerful Tom Elliott while adding the experienced Tyrone Barnett to their ranks.
Scoring goals certainly hasn’t been a problem for Ardley’s men to date this season, as despite losing four out of four they have scored in every game, and Page knows his defenders are going to have to be on their guard this weekend.
“Wimbledon have goals in them, and they are a big team,” said the Town boss.
“They are direct at times, and on Tuesday (when they lst 2-1 to Scunthorpe) they changed it second half to a 4-3-3 and had a right go.
“We respect that, and it will make for an entertaining game.”