|view Cox's match-by-match record|
A young forward player signed on a four month loan from Reading on the transfer deadline day in August 2007, Cox immediately demonstrated his confidence in his opening interview - when asked to describe his game, he immediately answered that he was "the best player in the world"! The confidence continued into his first game, when he netted in a 4-1 Johnstone's Paint Trophy win over Brentford, and then announced that he would be "banging down the manager's door" if his league debut didn't follow at the weekend. It did, but only from the bench, as the Town slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Yeovil - ironically the other side chasing his signature.
That defeat prompted Sturrock to partner Cox with fellow new signing Billy Paynter the following weekend, and they quickly formed a good understanding - Cox netting four in his first five starts, Paynter netting five. As a livewire striker, Cox also quickly built a rapport with the Swindon fans - though sometimes he was a bit too eager to impress - often attempting outrageous efforts on goal, when other players were in better positions. He also had a tendency to handle the ball to gain an advantage - after trying to score with his hand against Gillingham, he actually achieved the feat against Doncaster - scoring the equalising goal with a close range punch before Rovers regained the lead. This habit almost got him into trouble at Elland Road - when with the Town 2-1 down, Cox attempted to score again with his hand when he misjudged a cross - this time, it was spotted by the referee - and having already been booked, Cox seemed set for an early bath - instead, he was saved by the linesman's offside flag.
Cox netted three more goals before his loan spell ended - the last of which came in the very last minute of his final game, when he netted from the penalty spot to ensure that 10 man Town drew with champions elect Swansea. In the middle of a takeover, the Town were obviously interested in making Cox's switch permanent - but Reading seemed hesitant to do a deal - instead preferring to take Cox back, and see what happened during the transfer window. Any deal seemed dead when Cox was selected for an FA Cup tie against Tottenham - but once Reading refused to guarantee him first team football, Cox admitted he would be looking for a move away from the Madejski Stadium. When Northampton Town, one of Cox's previous loan employers, also joined the race for his signature, his agent appeared to be playing each club off against the other - the on/off saga finally ended on the last day of the transfer window, when Cox signed a two-and-a-half year deal at the County Ground, and immediately insisted that Swindon was always his first choice. Ironically, Northampton were the Town's next match - and although a paperwork hitch prevented him from making his second debut, the game was almost inevitably accompanied by chants of "What's it like to have no Cox?" from the Town End!
After netting twice more in February, Cox suffered a mini-crisis in March - after missing a glorious opportunity to equalise against Leeds, when he headed over from two yards out, he repeated the feat ten days later at Leyton Orient, when after being gifted the ball just six yards out, he put the ball over when free with just the keeper to beat. When Cox scored against Carlisle the following weekend, the relief was evident. He went on to score four more before the season was out, ending as top scorer on sixteen goals from 38 appearances.
Cox began his 2008/09 campaign with a superb pre-season strike against Turkish champions Fenerbahce on tour in Austria - with the ball played to him with his back to goal, he lifted the ball over the defender behind him, then turned and half-volleyed the ball over the keeper from fully thirty yards. This proved to be the first of many excellent goals throughout the campaign. Though a broken hand threatened to keep him out of the season's opener, he returned in time to bag his first of the season against Tranmere, and he went on to net ten in his first twelve appearances of the season, including a hat-trick at Hartlepool in October to put the Town 3-0 up, only to draw 3-3. This was the first of three hat-tricks that Cox netted during the campaign, all of them coming away from home - the first Town player to achieve such a feat. His second hat-trick, against Scunthorpe in November, included another great goal - this time a delicious lofted chip over the onrushing keeper. Cox was named at the PFA League One Fans' Player of the Month soon after.
Though Cox suffered a seven game barren spell during December, he returned to goalscoring form in January with two more excellent efforts - the first a consolation at Huddersfield, then at the end of the month, he scored a goal many considered to be the best ever seen at the County Ground against Walsall. Running on to a long, high ball over the defence, Cox controlled the ball on the volley, then, again more than thirty yards from goal, he struck another looping volley over Clayton Ince, the Walsall keeper. The goal had pundits around the country drooling, and it was even nominated for the Guardian newspaper's European Goal of the Season award. By now, numerous clubs had been linked with Cox's signature, and it was somewhat a relief to Town fans when the January transfer window passed with Cox still a Swindon player - chairman Andrew Fitton confirmed that one £½ million bid from Huddersfield was rejected, and also that the Town were in talks with Cox about a contract extension.
Cox netted just once in February, but he caught fire again in March - as he helped lift the Town out of relegation trouble. A penalty at Colchester was followed by two more the following week in a 3-0 home win against Southend - then he struck twice again in another relegation battle with Hereford, including an audacious back-heel from a position that he later admitted was miles offside. Three days later, Cox netted his third treble of the season in a crunch clash at Northampton, silencing the Cobblers' fans who gave him stick for choosing Swindon over them, as the Town won 4-3. Soon after, West Brom manager Tony Mowbray admitted that he was keeping tabs on Cox - Q.P.R., Newcastle, Derby, Leicester, Coventry, Wigan, Celtic, West Ham and Reading were all other clubs linked as Cox claimed the League One Player of the Month award for March, having netted eight goals in the eight games.
Perhaps affected by the speculation, Cox's form seemed to dip after that hat-trick, and after scoring at Brighton in mid-April, he went into the final two matches of the season on 25 league goals, three behind the division's leading scorer, Rickie Lambert of Bristol Rovers. Ironically, with the Town playing Rovers in the penultimate game of the season, Cox netted twice, and he told Lambert he would chase him all the way for the Golden Boot. On the final day of the season, Cox scored two more at already promoted Peterborough, but as Lambert scored as well, both players shared the award as the top scorers in all four divisions. Cox also made a piece of Swindon history, ending on 29 league goals, and 32 in all competitions, he scored the most goals by a Town player in a single season since the War - breaking Peter Eastoe's record of 26 goals in 1975. Unsurprisingly, Cox also made a clean sweep of the club's Player of the Year awards.
That summer, as first Leicester were rumoured to have made a bid that was rejected, reports swiftly followed that Celtic had made a £1.25m offer to take both Cox and young defender Sean Morrison in a double deal. After papers reported that chairman Andrew Fitton had told the Bhoys to double their offer for Cox alone, Fitton denied the claims - confirming that though three bids had been received, none had come from Parkhead. Leeds were also alleged to have been one of the clubs, but Fitton stated that Cox would only move for a step up the football ladder. Leicester soon pulled out of the race, citing Swindon's high asking price and Cox's apparent lack of interest in a move to the Walkers Stadium, as it was believed that he would prefer to stay at his Berkshire home. Eventually though, it was West Brom who won the race for his signature, despite his initial admirer Mowbray having left for Celtic - Cox signing a two year deal with the Baggies, for a club record total sale of £1.9 million, made up of a £1.5m initial fee, and £400,000 in performance related add-ons.
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