The First Round of the FA Cup begins this weekend. While most teams have been pitted against opposition from another league, MK Dons will make the trip to Grimsby in this round having hosted the Mariners in the league already this season. That game finished as a 1-1 draw but the Dons have since kick-started their season and should go into this cup tie full of confidence.
MK Dons Start FA Cup Journey With Grimsby Trip
Although last season was a painful one for MK Dons fans, they found some solace in a respectable FA Cup run, despite eventually being knocked out by then-League Two side Coventry.
Wins against non-league opposition in the first two rounds, a 4-0 away win at Hyde United and a 4-1 home victory over Maidstone United, set the Dons up for a visit to Championship side Queens Park Rangers. It wasn’t quite the stunning 4-2 win the Dons had produced at Loftus Road a few years prior, but Ouss Cisse’s magical second-half goal was easily one of the brightest moment in a dull season.
Grimsby, meanwhile, were dumped out in the first round of the competition last season, losing 1-0 away at Plymouth Argyle thanks to Graham Carey’s ninth-minute goal.
It’s been a poor league campaign so far for Grimsby, who sit just four points above the relegation zone. The point they picked up at Stadium MK back in August now looks to be one of their most valuable, considering where the Dons now sit in the table.
Michael Jolley’s side are the lowest scorers in the league with 11, which is three less than bottom side Macclesfield Town, who have seven fewer points. Jordan Cook, formerly of Luton and Walsall, is their joint top-scorer with two. Wes Thomas also has two, but Cook has provided an assist on top of this, and so looks to be the only real threat when Grimsby go forward. If he has a good game, then Grimsby have every chance of making the second round, but if he doesn’t, they don’t really have anyone else that could step up.
After suffering a serious ankle injury just 40 seconds into the opening game of the season, Peter Pawlett made his comeback last week in MK Dons’ 4-0 victory over Crawley. The winger almost got on the scoresheet, too, with a mazy dribble that was kept out by some valiant defending.
Pawlett made a big impact when he joined last season but spent large patches out injured. Dons fans will be hoping there is no repeat of this now that he has returned from the treatment room.
A cup game could be the perfect chance to give Pawlett some minutes in order to build his fitness and get his game sharpness up to scratch. If he does play, he will no doubt be raring to go.
The FA Cup is, of course, so different to a league game. Anything can happen, as we see countless times in each edition of the competition.
When you play somebody from your own league, though, you have them sussed out (hopefully) as you will have done your research on that team prior to the start of the season. The 1-1 draw earlier in the season could actually be a help to the Dons on this occasion as they will have a chance to put right what they did wrong in that match.
Grimsby will want to put up a fight after going out at this stage last season, but the Dons have really turned on the style in the last few weeks and that shouldn’t be any different here. Expect them to comfortably make it into the second round.
Prediction: Grimsby Town 1-3 MK Dons