MK Dons will be hoping to celebrate their second Stadium MK success in the space of four days when they take on Oxford United this afternoon.
Robbie Neilson’s men opened their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a 2-0 win in midweek and will be out to build on that triumph when they entertain the U’s in a testing Sky Bet League One clash.
A victory today would also be the Dons’ second straight home league win, following their 1-0 triumph over Gillingham a fortnight ago. Making that happen would be the ideal way to kick-start a month which includes a number of big match-ups for Neilson and his team.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Oxford Utd have made a strong start to the 2017/18 campaign and currently sit seventh in Sky Bet League One with seven points to their name.
Pep Clotet’s team have enjoyed convincing victories over Oldham Athletic and Portsmouth, while their 1-1 draw away at early high-fliers Shrewsbury Town was an impressive result.
Their only league defeat this season came away at Scunthorpe United two weeks ago but they responded in their next outing on the road, thrashing Stevenage 6-2 in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The U’s did lose star man Marvin Johnson on Deadline Day but they were able to add two Championship players in Alex Mowatt and John Mousinho – they’ll be hoping the pair can help them maintain their good early form.
The Dons kicked off their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21s at Stadium MK.
Gboly Ariyibi deservedly opened the scoring in the 32nd-minute when he pounced on a heavy touch from Brighton goalkeeper Rob Sanchez to slot home his second goal for the Club.
Neilson’s men dominated the contest and made sure of their success midway through the second half when Brandon Thomas-Asante was brought down by Sanchez in the penalty area –
Aaron Tshibola converted the spot-kick to hand the Dons all three points.
The U’s, alongside the Dons in Group G of the Checkatrade Trophy, enjoyed an excellent start to the competition as they thrashed Stevenage 6-2 at the Lamex Stadium.
Boro went ahead 18 minutes in but Oxford Utd fought back to lead 2-1 at the break thanks to goals from James Henry and Rob Hall. Jon Obika, Hall and Joe Rothwell then extended United’s lead early in the second half before Henry made it six just after the hour mark.
Stevenage did grab a consolation late on but it didn’t do anything to threaten what was a dominant result and performance from the Oxfordshire club.
Robbie Neilson: “They’ve started the season really well. They’ve got real quality in the attacking areas and they’ve scored a lot of goals.
“You can see what Pep’s trying to do. They are very aggressive when they press and they play with high lines. When they win it they try to flood the middle. We know what we have to do to try and combat that – hopefully we can put a good performance in and get the three points.”
Pep Clotet: “It’s a very big game because they have similar standards in terms of what they want to do and how they want to play.
“We have had good performances away from home so far – even though we lost at Scunthorpe I believe we deserved much better and we played very well. I expect another very good game on Saturday.”
Kieran Agard (groin) could return for the Dons this weekend after a short lay-off while Peter Pawlett and Callum Brittain will be assessed.
Osman Sow (thigh) and Joe Walsh (knee) are sidelined, as is Chuks Aneke (hamstring), who will feature in a behind-closed-doors Under-23s match on Monday.
The Club are still awaiting EFL clearance for Deadline Day signings Scott Golbourne, Aidan Nesbitt and Alex Gilbey.
Oxford hope to have Brazilian left-back Ricardinho (back) available while captain Curtis Nelson is expected to be involved too despite his absence in midweek.
Midfielder Ivo Pekalski (knee) and defenders Charlie Raglan (ankle) and Sam Long (knee) remain out but Clotet could hand debuts to deadline-day signings John Mousinho and Alex Mowatt.
Dean Whitestone will be the man in the middle today.
The Northamptonshire official has refereed six matches this season and booked 14 players but he has yet to show his red card.
His last Dons appointment was the Sky Bet Championship clash with Brighton & Hove Albion in November 2015. That afternoon he showed four yellow cards.
He took charge of Oxford United much more recently, back in April for their League One fixture with Millwall at The Den – a day when he was forced to make just one caution.
The assistant referees this afternoon are Craig Taylor and Paul Hobday while the fourth official is Christopher O’Donnell.
Dons wins: 0
Dons wins at Stadium MK: 0
Last Dons win: N/A
Biggest Dons win: N/A
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
Last draw: 0-0, 17 Sep 2016 (Stadium MK)
Oxford wins: 1
Oxford wins at Stadium MK: 0
Last Oxford win: 1-0, 11 Feb 2017 (Kassam Stadium)
Biggest Oxford win: 1-0, 11 Feb 2017 (Kassam Stadium)
Dons win – 7/5
Draw – 23/10
Oxford win – 19/10
Kieran Agard – 4/1
Ryan Seager – 13/2
Robbie Muirhead – 13/2
Gboly Ariyibi – 8/1
No goalscorer – 15/2
Wes Thomas – 11/2
Gino Van Kessel – 6/1
Jonathan Obika – 13/2
Rob Hal – 9/1
Sky Bet tip
MK Dons to win to nil – 11/4
Gboly Ariyibi to score first and MK Dons to win 2-0 – 55/1
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