MK Dons Return to League Action as They Face Forest Green

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: A general view of Stadium MK prior to the Carabao Cup First Round match between Milton Keynes Dons and Charlton Athletic at Stadium MK on August 14, 2018 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

MK Dons return to league action for the first time in two weeks on Saturday as they welcome Forest Green to Stadium MK for just the second meeting between the two sides. The Dons received the welcome break due to the postponement of their fixture with Yeovil Town last week, as they had numerous international call-ups. They played one fixture in that time, a 3-3 draw with Peterborough United in the Checkatrade Trophy, which Paul Tisdale’s side won on penalties.

MK Dons Return to League Action Against Forest Green

No History and Unbeaten Records

Usually, before a fixture, people research past games between the two sides and see if there is a pattern in results or particular standout moments; anything that will give their team an edge. This is a particularly hard task for these sides as it will be only the second time they have played each other, with the first coming only last season.

The two were drawn against each other in the first round of the Carabao Cup in Forest Green’s first season as a Football League club. They took their then League One visitors to extra-time, but Gboly Ariyibi’s stunner eventually saw the Dons edge into Round Two.

Rather than looking to history to provide a spark for this game, then, why not look at what has occurred so far this season? MK Dons and Forest Green are two of three sides that are yet to taste defeat in their respective league campaigns; Tisdale’s side have won three and drawn three of their six games, while Forest Green have won two and drawn five from their seven. Both of their wins have come away from home in impressive fashion, something that will worry their hosts.

Tisdale’s side have a slightly better record on home turf this season, though, winning two and drawing one at Stadium MK as opposed to winning one and drawing two on the road. As such, this becomes a difficult game to call.

Key Men

MK Dons

One of the stories of the summer coming out of MK Dons, aside from the managerial situation, was the future of Chuks Aneke. At the beginning, it was rumoured that he wanted to stay and attempt to make up for last season, but this eventually turned into rumours that he thought he was better than League Two and wanted to leave.

This wish nearly came to fruition with a loan move to the Championship, with the club reported to be Bolton Wanderers, but the transfer never happened and Aneke remains an MK Dons player. The forward made his return in the Checkatrade Trophy fixture against Peterborough last week and, despite some fans saying he was not forgiven and that he had been brought back into the fold too early, he found the net twice in the first half as the Dons raced into a 3-0 lead.

Whether or not Tisdale wants to risk Aneke in a league fixture at the moment (risk in terms of his current temperament rather than his ability or physical fitness) remains to be seen, but someone who finished as the club’s top scorer last season surely has to be brought back at some point and it should be done sooner rather than later, as he could cause a problem for any defence in League Two.

Forest Green

When Bolton Wanderers announced on the 31st of August that they had completed a signing, many MK Dons feared (or cheered) that it was their man Aneke. However, it was instead Forest Green striker Christian Doidge. The Welshman scored more than 40 goals for the club in little over 70 games and was their main attacking outlet, especially having scored four league goals for the club already in this campaign.

Luckily for the Rovers, they have another striker who is more than proven at this level. Ruben Reid made the move to The New Lawn in January 2018 from Paul Tisdale’s Exeter squad, where he scored 20 goals in 57 games. Prior to this, he had two prolific spells at Plymouth Argyle as well as a successful stint at Rotherham United in the 2008/09 season.

Although Reid hasn’t quite hit the ground running at his new side, he is now in a position where he is likely to be the main striker, following Doidge’s move. He has two goals so far in this campaign and will be eager to add to that as the star forward.

Prediction

Forest Green have proved already this season that they will be tough to beat, but also that killing off games is an issue for them. This will be an even bigger issue without Doidge, which is why Reid really has to step up for his side now.

MK Dons have had a long break since their last game, which is ample time to assess their start to the season, get players recovered from any knocks and to rest and re-charge for this game.

This should give the hosts an edge in this one, but the visitors will make it difficult for them.

Prediction: MK Dons 2-0 Forest Green

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