Paul Tisdale’s MK Dons side put in a dreadful performance last weekend at home to Forest Green, managing to stumble their way to a 1-1 draw after conceding a late penalty. The point meant that the Dons remained unbeaten in seven league games so far, but fans are slightly concerned by the four draws that have been picked up, as well as the sheer lack of firepower up front. Their striking problems and lack of productivity will need to be resolved in the short time they have left before they travel to Lincoln City, the League Two leaders.
League Two Leaders Lincoln City Host MK Dons
Out of the Picture Already?
Many expected these two sides to be battling it out for the title at the beginning of the season, perhaps with Exeter City breathing closely down their necks. Based on the opening four or five games, those predictions would have been backed up by reality. Lincoln have led the way for most of the season, with the Dons top of the league once so far and Exeter always close by.
However, two successive 1-1 draws for MK Dons, firstly against Swindon Town and then the aforementioned Forest Green game, have seen them drop down to ninth, collecting 13 points from their seven games. While this is by no means a disaster and could merely be a slight blip in form, the performance from last week was a big negative and the Dons forwards have struggled all season. Perhaps it’s no shock that their biggest margin of victory came in the Carabao Cup against Charlton when the Addicks essentially played a youth team.
The two recent draws certainly don’t put MK Dons out of the promotion picture – a win on Saturday could potentially see them go second if results elsewhere are favourable. But the likelihood of a win in this one, considering Lincoln’s record of six wins, one draw and one loss from eight games, as well as scoring nine more goals than the Milton Keynes side, is pretty slim.
If the Dons can get a win in this one, though, their start to the season will look a lot more positive once again, especially having already seen off Exeter at Stadium MK and having beaten Oldham, who sit sixth, on the opening day of the season.
John Akinde had a number of prolific spells at this level with Barnet and it only seemed right that he would remain in the league (or perhaps even higher up) when the Bees were relegated at the end of last season.
Having spent four years in north London, the question was always whether he could carry in being as prolific as years gone by in a new city, new team and a new system. The answer? Yes. Akinde currently leads the way in The Imps’ scoring charts with five goals in the league, making it a goal every 132 minutes for the 29-year-old.
Akinde has regularly been discussed as a forward option for the Dons and that was no different in the recently-closed summer transfer window. This could, potentially, work in the Dons’ favour. If they know everything they need to about the man from scouting him, perhaps they know the way to stop him. Putting this into practice, though, against someone of Akinde’s quality, is a different task altogether.
While Chuks Aneke has, rightly, taken a lot of plaudits in his last two games and gone some way to repairing his relationship with the club, this game is unlikely to bring out the best in him. A free-scoring, table-topping Lincoln side, when playing at home, are going to want to be attacking as much as they can, meaning that the focus is going to firmly be on the back five.
Baily Cargill made the surprise move to Stadium MK after his contract at Bournemouth expired in the summer and, after edging his way into the team, he has endeared himself to the MK Dons faithful. The former Premier League player looks comfortable when in possession, has already formed a good partnership with Dean Lewington and Joe Walsh and has let next to nothing get past him in his game time so far. Additionally, he has given Paul Tisdale such a selection headache that the manager has been forced to drop a midfielder and use regular centre-back Jordan Moore-Taylor in a defensive midfield role.
With much of the focus on the MK Dons defence in this game, this will be the biggest game that Cargill and the rest of his backline have faced so far. If he can come out of the test unscathed, he may find himself a regular in the starting lineup.
It’s entirely possible that MK Dons could kickstart their season in this game and go on to win by a good few goals. However, just as likely is that they continue their questionable start and stumble to a draw, perhaps even a loss.
A loss is the way this game looks to be leaning at the moment, purely because Lincoln have made such a good start and will want to gain further ground over a team that is still expected to challenge them come the end of the season.
Unfortunately, this will probably be the game where Tisdale and his side lose their unbeaten streak, but it shouldn’t faze them too much and, even after a loss here, they should easily bounce back in their coming fixtures.
Prediction: Lincoln City 2-1 MK Dons