Town Visit MK Dons Looking For Third Away Win
Tuesday, 17th Sep 2019 06:00
Second-placed Town travel to the MK Dons tonight looking for their third away win of the campaign as well as a return to the top of the division.
The still-unbeaten Blues, who won 5-0 at Bolton on their last trip and defeated Burton 1-0 on the opening day, are a point behind leaders Coventry following the weekend fixtures but with a game in hand. The Sky Blues host AFC Wimbledon at St Andrew’s this evening.
The fixture at Stadium MK is the second of three matches in eight days, following the weekend 0-0 home draw with Doncaster, and manager Paul Lambert is expected to make changes.
Asked whether he planned to shuffle his pack for the visit to Buckinghamshire after Saturday’s game, Lambert said he would assess those involved against the South Yorkshiremen before making a decision.
“I’ll pick a team which I think can go and win,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see. We go there to try and win, we’ll have a massive support. I’ll see how they are on Sunday and Monday and then decide what team I’ll play.”
Among those back in the squad after injury absences are midfielder Jon Nolan and striker Will Keane.
Lambert says Keane is still a little way off being fully fit, having featured for the final 11 minutes on Saturday, while he believes Nolan is nearer to being ready for a start.
“Will more so than Nolo, Nolo now I think is just about there,” he said. “Toto [Nsiala]’s doing OK, he’ll play [in the U23s] on Monday.
“They’re starting to come back, they’re not too far apart. Longevity-wise, Will I think has been the one who has been most frustrated with injury.”
He added: “Nolan’s come on from the bench a few times, the lad can play, he’s got a goal in him, which is great, and Will’s a natural goalscorer. You’ve just got to give them time but they’re getting there.”
Striker James Norwood had a frustrating afternoon against Doncaster with the visitors’ keeper Ian Lawlor having come out on top in two one on ones.
“The good thing about Norwood and [Kayden] Jackson is that they’re getting the chances and they’ve been putting them away,” Lambert said of his frontmen, who have netted five and four respectively this season already.
“On Saturday, Norwood’s had a couple of chances and on another day they’ll fly in. I’ve got no problem about Norwood or Jackson scoring.”
Despite dropping two points against Doncaster, Lambert was pleased with the clean sheet, Town’s third in a row in League One, and says he's a firm believer that success is built on a solid backline: “I was fortunate to play with some world class teams and defending’s the cornerstone of everything you’re trying to achieve.
“If you’re strong defensively then you’ve certainly got a chance up the other end. Defensively, the clean sheet is very good.”
The MK Dons sit in 10th in the table, only three points behind the Blues, having recorded a noteworthy 3-0 win away against early pace-setters Blackpool on Saturday.
“It’s hard, every team is hard but we go there with confidence and we go there to try and win,” the Blues boss continued.
“I don’t worry about anything else other than what we do, we’re the main focus and if we can go and do what we do, then hopefully we’ll come away with a win.”
Tomas Holy will continue in goal after his impressive performance against Doncaster.
Lambert may well look to continue his rotation policy at the centre of the defence, swapping one of skipper Luke Chambers or Luke Woolfenden for James Wilson. Nsiala isn’t yet ready for a return and was in the U23s at Burnley yesterday.
Kane Vincent-Young is likely to be at right-back - with Janoi Donacien the alternative if Lambert decides to rotate - while Myles Kenlock will probably again be on the left, although Luke Garbutt was back in training at the end of last week and is another possibility.
In midfield, Lambert may decide to switch to a three central midfielders with Cole Skuse, who will be making his 250th appearance for the Blues, and Flynn Downes - or maybe Nolan - perhaps behind Alan Judge with Gwion Edwards on the right - although Danny Rowe is an option if he’s over the ear infection which saw him miss Saturday’s match - and Anthony Georgiou - who would be making his full debut - on the left.
Norwood would probably be the lone out and out striker with Jackson rested.
Keane will be among the subs, with Emyr Huws, who missed the Doncaster game having been ill earlier last week, probably joining him on the bench.
The MK Dons, who utilise a 3-5-2 system, have won their last three games. At home have run out victors on three occasions this season and have lost once, a 4-0 thrashing by Peterborough.
The home side are expected with be without forward Rhys Healey due to a thigh problem sustained in the pre-match warm-up at the weekend, while defenders Baily Cargill and Jordan Moore-Taylor, striker Joe Mason and midfielder Ben Reeves all remain sidelined. Former U's midfielder Alex Gilbey also missed Saturday's match .
The Blues, who will be backed by around 3,000 fans this evening, and the Dons have only ever met three times, twice in the league and once in the Carling Cup.
The last meeting between the teams was their first at Portman Road with Town ending their 2015/16 home campaign with a 3-2 victory.
David McGoldrick put the Blues in front on 16 but conceded a penalty just before the break from which Alex Revell equalised.
Brett Pitman put Town back in front on 68, Revell equalised again six minutes later before Luke Varney won it in the final minute.
In December 2015, in the first ever league game between the sides, Town claimed their third successive win on the road as Pitman’s 10th-minute goal saw the Blues to a 1-0 victory at Stadium MK.
Town ought to have won the game by a greater margin with the Blues failing to take a number of good chances.
The only other game between the teams came in the first round of the Carling Cup at Stadium MK back in August 2007 when the Blues were beaten 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out following a 3-3 draw after extra-time.
Leon Knight put the home side ahead on 16 then four minutes later Alex Bruce netted an own goal to make it 2-0.
Alan Lee pulled one back from the penalty spot just prior to half-time before a Kieron Murphy own goal levelled the scores seven minutes after the restart.
Owen Garvan gave the Blues the lead eight minutes into extra-time, but Kevin Gallen netted from the spot after the Dons were controversially awarded a penalty in the final minute.
In the shoot-out Lloyd Dyer, Mark Wright, Gallen, Jude Sterling and Sean O'Hanlon all scored for the home side, while Billy Clarke, Jon Walters and Jason De Vos were successful for the Blues.
However, Dan Harding’s fourth for Town was stopped by one-time Blues reserves keeper Nathan Abbey, sealing the victory for the home team.
Tonight’s referee is Lee Swabey from Devon, who has shown 17 yellow cards and no red in seven games so far this season. Swabey will be refereeing his first Town match.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, Garbutt, Rowe, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood, Keane.
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