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Town's New Era Gets Under Way as MK Dons Visit
Friday, 9th Apr 2021 14:17

Town’s new era gets under way on the field on Saturday afternoon when the Blues host the MK Dons at Portman Road. New chairman Mike O'Leary will watch his first game in his new role.

Paul Cook’s team go into the game on a three-match unbeaten run, albeit having claimed one win and two draws from meetings with the bottom three. Town are eighth, three points off the play-offs with eight fixtures remaining having played once more than Lincoln in sixth.

Saturday's match will be Cook’s fourth at home since he took charge at the start of last month and he is unbeaten at Portman Road with the Blues having won two and drawn one of the previous three, most recently the 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers on Good Friday.

Cook cancelled this morning’s pre-match conference last night so he and his players could concentrate on Saturday’s match following the week’s tumultuous events at Portman Road. The Blues boss will speak to the media about the takeover after the match.

After the underwhelming 0-0 draw at bottom club Rochdale on Monday in what proved to be Marcus Evans’s last match in charge of the club, a game in which neither side managed a shot on target, it would be little surprise if Cook made changes to his XI.

The Town boss also has players coming back from injury who could potentially be involved. Following the Dale match Cook said that James Norwood’s thigh injury wasn’t too bad but didn’t give a return date.

The Blues manager also revealed that Kane Vincent-Young was due back on the Playford Road turf this week following his hamstring injury, while Flynn Downes is also closing in on a return, also from a hamstring problem. It seems more likely that the duo would be on the bench rather than in the XI.

Tomas Holy will probably continue in goal with Cook again having a decision to make with his system.

At Rochdale, the Blues started in 3-5-2 before moving to a formation which was a variation on his preferred 4-2-3-1, but more 4-2-2-1-1.

Cook may well opt to start with a four-man backline with Luke Woolfenden at right-back - unless Vincent-Young is deemed ready to start - with Stephen Ward or Myles Kenlock at left-back and skipper Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala the centre-halves.

In midfield, Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop could continue, although Cole Skuse is another option and Downes may play some part.

Alan Judge and Gwion Edwards were the widemen at Rochdale but Armando Dobra is an alternative, while Keanan Bennetts is also available having played the full 90 minutes for the U23s on Tuesday following a knock.

Up front, Norwood will start if fit with Troy Parrott probably playing behind him. Otherwise, Kayden Jackson or Oli Hawkins wil be the main striker.

MK lost 2-0 at home to Crewe on Monday having won their previous four. Prior to that they had gone five without a win, four defeats and one draw.

They sit 12th in the division, four points behind the Blues having played a game more, with a league away record of won seven, drawn two and lost 10. Last time on the road they won 2-1 at Burton.

Dons boss Russell Martin says he’d have expected some stick from Town fans had they been present having spent much of his career at Norwich City.

“It’s Norwich’s biggest rival so I’m sure I would’ve got stick going there.” he told MK Citizen.

“It’s a really good challenge for our players. They are a fantastic team and a big scalp in this division. It’ll be a tough game for us but I’m really looking forward to it. We need to go there and enjoy it.

“They are a team in transition with the change in manager and he’s probably not had as much time on the training ground as he’s wanted. I think we can go there and do what we do, be us, and look to win the game.”

Reflecting on the 1-1 draw at Stadium MK in October: “That was at a time Ipswich were in top form at the top of the division. It was one of our most dominant displays and one of many frustrating games early in the season. I think we’ve replicated them performances with the results this year.”

On-loan Norwich midfielder Louis Thompson and ex-Canary striker Cameron Jerome picked up knocks in Monday’s 2-1 home defeat to Crewe Alexandra and are doubts, while midfielder Ben Gladwin and forwards Kieran Agard and Jay Bird remain sidelined.

The Blues and the Dons have only ever met on five occasions, four times in the league - three Town wins and the draw earlier in the campaign - and once in the Carling Cup in 2007 when the game ended 3-3 before the Buckinghamshire side won a penalty shoot-out 5-3.

Town dropped points and conceded in League One for the first time this season as they drew 1-1 away against the MK Dons in October having ended the game with 10 men after sub Downes was forced off with an injury.

Jon Nolan gave Town the lead in the seventh minute, Daniel Harvie scored a deserved leveller for the home side five minutes after the break and the Blues, who dropped to third, held on for a point.

Last season's Portman Road fixture was among those due to be played after 2019/20 was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The only time the teams have met on Suffolk soil was in April 2016 when Town ended their home campaign with a 3-2 victory over the Dons.

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 line with all other EFL games this weekend, there will be a two-minute silence ahead of the game to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died earlier today aged 99.

Saturday’s referee is Tom Nield from West Yorkshire, who has shown 102 yellow cards and two red in 28 games so far this season.

Nield’s last Town match was the Blues’ 1-0 win at Hull City in February in which he booked Nsiala, Kenlock, Bennetts and two Tigers.

Before that he took control of the 0-0 draw with Oxford at the Kassam Stadium last season when he took the players off for 15 minutes due to monsoon conditions and booked Edwards and one home player.

Prior to that his only other Blues match was the 4-0 Trophy victory over Gillingham at Portman Road in which he yellow-carded Emyr Huws and two Gills.

Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Vincent-Young, Chambers (c), Ward, Nsiala, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Dozzell, Skuse, Judge, Harrop, Bishop, Downes, Edwards, Lankester, Bennetts, Sears, Norwood, Jackson, Parrott, Hawkins, Drinan.

Photo: Matchday Images

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cooper4england added 14:28 - Apr 9
Felt quite excited till the:

"Otherwise, Kayden Jackson is likely to be the main striker."


IpswichT62OldBoy added 14:46 - Apr 9
This will be interesting, I am looking forward to seeing how the players respond, or if they even have the ability to.
Exciting times, in a good way.

unknown100 added 14:50 - Apr 9
I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Hawkins start up front

itsonlyme added 14:55 - Apr 9
You hope the players will give their all not like the Rochdale performance but we won’t hold our breath!

ronnyd added 15:01 - Apr 9
Is anyone really expecting massive changes in performance? It's still the same crop of underachievers we've had all season. Can't expect much until next season.

PhilTWTD added 15:04 - Apr 9

That's a good point re Hawkins, PC gave him a positive review after the game. I've added him as an alternative along with Jackson.

ArnieM added 15:17 - Apr 9
So essentially MK Dons are scum incarnate then . To$$assars

dirtydingusmagee added 15:18 - Apr 9
not expecting anything from them unless PC plays some that have not been getting a place, i hope Dobra is given a fair run,he is one of the few that have impressed at all . Still think this season is over now, just hoping for big clear out and some tallent coming in .

Gforce added 15:25 - Apr 9
If the takeover and start of hopefully a fantastic new era doesn't get the players motivated, nothing will.

itfcserbia added 15:26 - Apr 9
As much as I would love us to get promoted this season, I just can't imagine this team in the Wembley finals. I just can't.

Billybobblue added 15:43 - Apr 9
To be honest we'll be lucky to get a point. New owners is good I'm positive about that, but its still the same crop of players. Main changes wont be until next season, but this game would be a good platform to start putting the effort in and still push for play offs.
I dont think we are good enough but wouldnt mind being surprised!

SheptonMalletBlue added 15:46 - Apr 9
Drop the captain, no chance of victory otherwise!!!!!

ImAbeliever added 16:00 - Apr 9
I agree, re: Hawkins. Not really seen what he can do as the main front man.

Blue_Meanie added 16:01 - Apr 9
This squad is simply not good enough.
It wouldn’t matter if the UAE took over the club and Pep was the coach, we’d still have one of the many under achievers on here on Monday saying something along the lines of “ As a group we must perform better.”
These are very average League 1 players who still think they’re championship class.

TimmyH added 16:36 - Apr 9
The way we've been playing the last few games we'll do well to win this...never thought I'd be plumbing the depths by saying that!

I wonder if Mr Dozzell will again be starting and however badly he plays will not be substituted, the new un-droppable.

90z added 16:52 - Apr 9
I wonder how Cook felt knowing new owners had taken over, quite surprising he didn't know anything about it! He came here cause he wanted to work alongside Evans & O'Neill. I hope his happy with the new set up !

chepstowblue added 17:45 - Apr 9
With all the current optimistic talk it's easy to forget that we've been a shambles this season, and pathetic in the last few games.The good performances counted on one hand. It has the feeling of a 0-1(Jerome). As soon as we get that 75 trillion to spend the better !

JCBLUE added 17:46 - Apr 9
Absolutely certain Cook would have known about the takeover, and that they approved of his appointment, before accepting the position. A takeover was already strongly rumoured at the time.

With regard to the players, you would like to think the next 8 games would see MAXIMUM effort, either to secure a new contract with us, or to impress elsewhere!!

Fingers crossed, we are still in with a shout, COYB!!

Linkboy13 added 18:51 - Apr 9
Yes TimmyH Im afraid your right about Dozzell it's part of the click at Portman road im afraid managers seem reluctant to leave him out of the team because of the uproar it would cause behind the scenes. We've also become a jobs for the boys club which is all very romantic and nostalgic but does it benefit the club . Paul Cook has to make some very big decisions that benefit the club and not make it just a nice cosy place to earn a living.

Wishing4arightback added 20:02 - Apr 9
This will be an interesting watch regarding certain players. There will be new players regardless of the league we are in next season, BUT certain players may think they have a better chance of another year in League 1 as eve in their own over inflated Egos, they must realise Championship football will 100% spell the end of their time on easy money.
Have they got the best interest of the club or their own pocket??? I think if the effort levels are similar to Rochdale the question will be answered.
I think hard-nosed American investors will see through the shouting g and fist pumps and will see players for what they are.
Like I say, will be an interesting watch.......

happybeingblue added 20:58 - Apr 9
roll on next season a complete new line up hopefully bar 1 or 2 ,play offs are gone teams currently above us are better .....let it go its gone

Marinermagic added 21:00 - Apr 9
Paul Cook's pre match talk. " OK guys, calm down calm down. For each of you who have a shot on goal, that's their goal not ours, we will discuss a new ontract, er by the way we play in blue.

JewellintheTown added 22:25 - Apr 9
I think the start of clearing out players might put the wind up some of the remaining players who risk following, plus new owners to impress. Shouldn't be this way but I'll take a win if it works.

TractorRoyNo1 added 23:15 - Apr 9
A bit more thinking and less talking by Lambert and Jerome would have got us promotion

eddiespearitt03 added 23:54 - Apr 9
Town,s new era only begins when there has been a squad overhaul. The new era does not begin with a game at MK Dons. The usual scenario being that players pep up a bit just because their contract is expiring. Seen it all before at this club. New owners, new manager and now we need better footballers.

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