Today marks the start of a new era for MK Dons as Paul Tisdale takes charge of his first competitive game as manager.
Tisdale, who took over the reins at MK Dons back in May, will lead the team out at SportsDirect.com Park this afternoon as they begin their 2018/19 Sky Bet League Two campaign against Oldham Athletic. Kick-off is at 3pm.
MK Dons boast a strong record on opening day having lost just one of their last nine curtain-raisers - last season’s 1-0 reverse to Stadium MK. Four of the five seasons prior to 2017/18, MK Dons came out on top in their opening match including a 2-0 victory over Oldham back in August 2012.
A similar result today would provide Tisdale and his new-look side with the perfect start to life back in the fourth tier.
Oldham were relegated from Sky Bet League One with MK Dons last season and will similarly hold aspirations of returning to the division at the earliest possible opportunity.
They too have a new man in charge - former Latics striker Frankie Bunn who, at the age of 55, is beginning his first stint as a full-time manager - and he has been busy during the transfer window.
The likes of Jose Baxter and Andy Taylor have arrived from Everton and Blackpool, respectively while strikers Chris O’Grady, Sam Surridge and Ishmael Miller are more recent additions to the squad. Those signings have helped to replace the players who have left over the summer - Craig Davies, Paul Green, Ollie Banks and Aaron Amadi-Holloway to name a few.
During pre-season, Oldham enjoyed mixed fortunes with their standout result a respectable 2-2 draw at home to Nottingham Forest. Their only defeat came in their final friendly - a 3-0 reverse to Preston North End - but their first three games, against non-league opposition, all resulted in victories.
The Dons wrapped-up their pre-season schedule with a deserved 1-0 win over Oxford United at Stadium MK.
Kieran Agard grabbed the decisive goal 20 minutes into the second half to ensure Paul Tisdale’s side headed into Gameweek One on a positive note.
Oldham were beaten 3-0 by Preston North End in their final pre-season match-up at SportsDirect.com Park.
The Latics impressed during the first 45 minutes but three second-half strikes saw the Sky Bet Championship run out winners.
Paul Tisdale: “I'd be lying if I said I knew everything about them - they're in transition too, coming down like us, and it’s one of those times of year where you don't get the full picture on a team because you don't get to see behind the scenes.
“Therefore, it’s important for us to establish our own patterns on the game as soon as possible.”
Frankie Bunn: "There are smiles around the place again and everyone’s working hard towards our goal. So things are looking good.”
"We want to get out of this league as quickly as possible. Hopefully we get off to a terrific start. There is a lot of optimism around the place and the players are bright and bubbly. Hopefully that’ll put us in good standing.”
Paul Tisdale provided a positive injury update in his Thursday press conference, ruling only three players out of this afternoon's opener - forwards Osman Sow, Brandon Thomas-Asante and Sam Nombe.
Last season’s top goalscorer Chuks Aneke is back in training and Tisdale didn’t dismiss the possibility that he could be involved today while he also confirmed that Callum Brittain, Alex Gilbey and Joe Walsh are all fit and in contention to feature at Oldham.
Oldham midfielder Jose Baxter is set to feature this afternoon despite missing a large portion of pre-season with an injury. He is expected to play alongside new arrivals Ishmael Miller, Chris O’Grady, Andy Taylor, Giles Coke and Sam Surridge in the squad.
The only absentee for the Latics is midfielder Ousmane Fane, who is sidelined with a broken fibula and dislocated ankle.
EFL debutant Neil Hair will take charge of today's affair in Greater Manchester.
Hair has spent the past two seasons in the National League and last season refereed 26 games, including the National League Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium where he produced a red card after just one minute. In total, he made 81 bookings and sent three players off in 2017/18.
Despite never officiating in the EFL before, Hair has come across Paul Tisdale once before. Back in November 2017, he was the man in the middle for Exeter City’s Emirates FA Cup tie with Heybridge Swifts.
Hair’s assistant referees are David Benton and Danny Gratton while the fourth official is Paul Hodskinson.
MK Dons wins: 11
MK Dons wins at SportsDirect.com Park: 5
Last MK Dons win: 1-0, 7 Feb 2017 (Stadium MK)
Biggest MK Dons win: 7-0, 20 Dec 2014 (Stadium MK)
Draws at SportsDirect.com Park: 0
Last draw: 4-4, 21 Oct 2017 (Stadium MK)
Oldham wins: 7
Oldham wins at SportsDirect.com Park: 6
Last Oldham win: 1-0, 13 Feb 2018 (SportsDirect.com Park)
Biggest Oldham win: 3-0, 28 Aug 2004 (SportsDirect.com Park)
Alex Gilbey to score first and MK Dons to win 2-0: 105/1
MK Dons to win 2-0: 11/1
MK Dons and Oldham Athletic have faced each other on opening day before. That afternoon, in August 2012, a then-Karl Robinson led team won 2-0.
Tickets are priced at £22 adults, £10 seniors, students and under-21s and £7 under-18s, and can now only be bought at SportsDirect.com Park.
Supporters living outside the UK and Ireland can watch the match LIVE with an iFollow MK Dons Season/Monthly Pass or by purchasing a Match Pass – click HERE for more information!
iFollow MK Dons will have also live commentary of the game for UK and Ireland-based fans – click HERE to sign up for as little as £4.49 for a month.
Supporters can also stay in touch with the action via mkdons.com’s Match Centre, which can be accessed by visiting the home page from 1pm.
There will also be full coverage on the Club’s social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat!
A full match report will be available to view on mkdons.com straight after the final whistle along with full reaction from Paul Tisdale and a player. Highlights will be available to view from midnight.
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Crewe Alexandra v Morecambe
Exeter City v Carlisle United
Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers
Mansfield Town v Newport County
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Port Vale v Cambridge United
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