More misery for toothless Cobblers as Forrester fires Dons to Sixfields victory

George Long produced an acrobatic save from Daniel Powell in the first-half of Saturday's game. Pictures by Sharon Lucey
George Long produced an acrobatic save from Daniel Powell in the first-half of Saturday's game. Pictures by Sharon Lucey

It's now six straight league games without a goal for the struggling Cobblers who dropped to second-bottom in Sky Bet League One with a 1-0 home defeat to AFC Wimbledon after another toothless attacking performance.

This game was never going to be one for the purist given the two teams' respective records and so it proved after a drab and lacklustre affair, though Dons will care not after Harry Forrester's fine finish on the hour-mark helped them to a first ever victory over Northampton since reforming in 2002.

Sam Hoskins made his first start of the season

Sam Hoskins made his first start of the season

The first-half went with the formbook with both sides desperately short on confidence and quality and the second-half was not much better despite Forrester's goal, as George Long became the latest visiting goalkeeper to leave Sixfields with a relatively untroubled clean sheet.

It's now difficult to know where Town go from here given that, even with a much-changed line-up, they produced yet another performance with so little quality and creativity in attack while a lapse of concentration in defence proved fatal.

It was to the surprise of very few inside Sixfields that manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opted for wholesale changes to the team that was so heavily defeated by Bristol Rovers a week earlier.

Among the five changes he made, there were first league starts of the season for new signing Lewis McGugan and fit-again Sam Hoskins while Shaun McWilliams returned from injury to start in midfield and Billy Waters led the line in the absence of captain Marc Richards, who missed out with a thigh strain.

Lewis McGugan and Matt Grimes

Lewis McGugan and Matt Grimes

Daniel Powell also came in and there was a big boost on the bench with John-Joe O'Toole appearing in Northampton's matchday squad for the first time since pre-season when he picked up a groin injury.

The fact that both of these sides were in the middle of a long goal drought was evident in a tentative, mostly uneventful opening quarter that witnessed precious little in the way of goalmouth action, with Harry Forrester's weak long-range effort the only shot of note.

Northampton, who were set up 4-4-2, could not get anything going in an attacking sense as their front two of Hoskins and Waters fed off scraps and constant over-hit long balls forward, while WImbledon too struggled for fluidity in the final third despite shading what action there was.

The two goalkeepers remained untroubled until the 42nd minute when, finally, Town strung together a period of pressure. A patient move in the Dons half culminated in Powell receiving possession just outside the penalty box on the right side where he spun his man and then fizzed in a venomous shot which visiting stopper George Long tipped over.

But that came out of character in an otherwise thoroughly disappointing first-half that predictably ended goalless.

The Cobblers marginally improved in the second-half but signs of a goal at either end remained too few and far between on what had been a comfortable afternoon for the two defences up until that point.

It always felt that the only way a goal would arrive was either through a mistake or a piece of brilliance, and unfortunately for Northampton, it was a combination of both that allowed Wimbledon to take a crucial 61st minute lead. A mix-up in the home defence resulted in Forrester picking up possession before he drove towards goal and found the bottom corner with a superb low finish.

The Cobblers were level almost immediately as Ash Taylor brought down Matt Grimes' deep free-kick before shooting wide via a deflection before Lyle Taylor snatched at a shot that hit the side-netting.

O'Toole was then introduced, much to the delight of the home fans, but even he couldn't inspire his team to a goal despite their best efforts.

There was the odd close shave as Long smothered at the feet of Long and Hoskins shot over but they were half chances at best and though they pressed frantically forward in stoppage-time, Wimbledon held on with relative ease.

Cobblers: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan (c), McWilliams (O'Toole 78), Grimes, McGugan (Bowditch 67), Powell, Hoskins (Foley 85), Waters

Subs not used: Cornell, Poole, Smith, Kasim

Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Nightingale, Francomb, Forrester (Oshilaja 73), Trotter, Barcham, Soares, Kaja (Abdou 72), Charles, Taylor (McDonald 90)

Subs not used: Robinson, Kennedy, McDonnell, Hartigan

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 5,306

Wimbledon fans: 501