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2-2
26 December 2019 Venue Roots Hall Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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Preview: Southend United

All you need to know ahead of today's clash at Roots Hall...

26 December 2019

MK Dons travel to Roots Hall this afternoon looking to bounce back from defeat last time out and record a crucial Sky Bet League One victory.

Russell Martin’s men were beaten 3-1 by Gillingham last weekend, as they failed to follow up their impressive 1-0 win over Oxford United the previous Saturday.

Confidence, though, remains high at Stadium MK, with improved performances under manager Russell Martin and an attack which is beginning to find it’s groove as key players return to fitness.

A win in Essex later today could, with the help of results elsewhere, see the Dons move out of the bottom three for the first time since the start of November. At the very least, it would keep them in the pack of teams between 16th and 21st that are separated by just six points.

Kick-off is at 3pm.

THE OPPOSITION
Southend United sit one place below MK Dons in the Sky Bet League One table heading into this Boxing Day encounter at Roots Hall.

The Shrimpers, 10 points behind Russell Martin’s men, have just one win to their name this season – a 1-0 triumph over the Dons at Stadium MK back in September.

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A lot has changed for the two clubs since that reverse fixture, with both sides now under the leadership of different managers. Southend appointed Sol Campbell as their new chief and he has made an impact in Essex.

United having drawn two of their last four matches, scoring at least two goals in each of their last three outings. Stephen Humphrys is their leading marksman – the 22-year-old has found the net on five occasions this term, although hasn’t done so since September.

LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons failed to make it back-to-back Sky Bet League One victories, as they were beaten 3-1 by Gillingham at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

The Gills scored twice in two first-half minutes to take a 2-0 lead into the break – Mikael Mandron and Brandon Hanlan with the efforts.

Alex Gilbey pulled one back for the Dons early in the second half – a terrific solo goal – but Max Ehmer made the game safe for Gillingham just four minutes later as he crashed home on the rebound after Lee Nicholls had saved a free-kick.

Southend United were edged out by the odd-goal in five in a crucial Sky Bet League One clash with Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Harry Lennon put Southend in front but Keith Hill's side rallied with strikes before half-time from Joe Dodoo and Luke Murphy.

Bolton top scorer Daryl Murphy added a third in the second period and that proved to be the crucial strike after Timothee Dieng netted a late consolation.

FIGHTING TALK
Russell Martin: “We have to go into every game wanting to win it. We will make sure we are prepared to adapt to each game and each challenge. There are no easy games for us. Southend are a team who are improving. They are fighting and so are we. It makes for a big game.”

Sol Campbell: “They’re all big games. They’re there in and around us, but we’ve got to pick up points up against whoever we play. We can’t pick and choose. We’ve just got to set our stall out and hopefully, we’ll get the result with good performances and work ethic. If we drop off from that, we get exposed.”

TEAM NEWS
MK Dons boss Russell Martin revealed in his pre-match press conference that Rhys Healey (thigh) is included his squad to face Southend United. The striker, who has three goals in six appearances this term, could make his first appearance since September. 

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Healey will boost Martin’s attacking options along with striker Sam Nombe (knee), who made it through his 45 minutes against Gillingham unscathed.

At the other end of the pitch, the Dons welcome back Baily Cargill from a three-game suspension. However, Martin confirmed that defender Jordan Moore-Taylor (knee), though, won’t feature in the festive fixtures.

Southend United lost defender Harry Lennon to a serious leg injury last weekend at Bolton Wanderers.

He joins full-back Nathan Ralph (shoulder) on the sidelines although Sol Campbell has been boosted by the recent returns of several key players – defenders Jon White and Stephen McLaughlin, midfielder Sam Mantom and strikers Tom Hopper and Brandon Goodship.

OFFICIALS
Neil Hair will take charge of a fixture between Southend United and MK Dons for the second time this season.

Hair oversaw the Dons’ 4-1 win at Roots Hall back in August and had a quiet evening, booking just one player.

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The Carabao Cup tie is one of 15 matches that the two-year EFL official has refereed this season. In total, he has shown 49 yellow cards in 2019/20 but only brandished his red card on two occasions.

His assistant referees are Anthony Da Costa and Ryan Whitaker while the fourth official is Christopher O'Donn.

SKY BET ODDS
Dons win: 11/10
Draw: 12/5
Southend win: 9/4

Click HERE for more Sky Bet odds!

ELSEWHERE IN SKY BET LEAGUE ONE
Blackpool v Accrington Stanley
Bristol Rovers v AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion v Tranmere Rovers
Ipswich Town v Gillingham
Oxford United v Lincoln City
Peterborough United v Doncaster Rovers
Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers
Rochdale v Fleetwood Town
Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United
Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers

FOLLOW IT LIVE
Tickets for today's clash with Southend United can still be bought from the Box Office at a price of £22 adults, £15 over-60s, £14 17-22 year-olds/students and £10 9-16 year-olds while under-9s tickets are priced at just £4. Tickets will be available to buy until 11am.

Tickets will be available to buy this afternoon at Roots Hall but these tickets will be subject to a price increase.

Can't make today's match? Not to worry, you can listen to live commentary on iFollow MK Dons for just £2.50 - click HERE to purchase an Audio Match Pass!

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 2pm.

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 Russell Martin and a player. Highlights will be available three hours after full-time.

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Match Reports

Report: Southend United 2-2 MK Dons

Dons draw on Boxing Day..

26 December 2019

Southend United twice came from behind to hold MK Dons to a 2-2 draw at Roots Hall.

Russell Martin’s men opened the scoring through Joe Mason 13 minutes in but Jason Demetriou levelled the scores with a penalty before half-time.

Substitute Rhys Healey marked his return to action with a goal to restore MK Dons’ lead but the Shrimpers again equalised through Rob Kiernan, as the game ended all-square in Essex.

Boss Martin opted for two changes from the side which lost 3-1 at Gillingham last weekend, with Sam Nombe making his first start since suffering a knee injury in September. Ben Reeves also coming into the starting XI while was a place on the bench for Rhys Healey and Baily Cargill, who returned from suspension.

The Dons made a confident start, with Nombe flashing a shot into the side netting within the opening two minutes. Southend responded through Stephen Humphrys, who saw a right-footed drive blocked by Regan Poole.

It was Martin’s men, however, who would strike first and it was in-form Mason, who grabbed the goal.

Conor McGrandles started the move with a driving run through the middle and it was his ball, poked through a crowded box, that Mason met, four yards out, to convert his fourth goal in six games. 0-1.

Mason almost had a second, seven minutes later, but his shot was blocked. The Dons retained possession and it led to an opportunity for McGrandles, from a Dean Lewington cross – the Scotsman’s header was saved by Mark Oxley.

Humphrys threatened an equaliser for the hosts shortly after, firing just over the bar with a fierce 25-yard strike. Elvis Bwomono also went close to levelling but saw his fizzing effort drift wide of the right-hand upright.

Eventually, the Shrimpers did equalise and it came from the penalty spot after Nicholls collided with Humphrys inside the box. Demetriou took the kick and sent Nicholls the wrong way from 12 yards to level the scores. 1-1.

Nicholls was forced into a save two minutes after the re-start, getting down well to parry away Humphrys deflected shot. Humphrys went close again moments later, but Nicholls, again, kept out his attempt.

With eight minutes to play in the half, Southend threatened from distance once more – this time, Mark Milligan tried his luck but, again, found Nicholls in the way.

The Dons had a terrific opportunity to restore the lead three minutes later, after Lewington found Nombe free inside the Southend area. The striker got a shot away but saw his low effort saved by Oxley at his near post.

Neither side could amend the scores before half-time but the Dons went about doing so early in the second. They had a decent shout for a penalty within minutes of the re-start but referee Neil Hair wasn’t moved when Mason went down in the box.

Southend then had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead but Tom Hopper failed to convert from close-range, after his teammates had won possession deep in the MK Dons half.

That led to a spell of Shrimpers pressure, during which defender John White headed wide and Demetriou drilled just past the left post from 20 yards out.

Martin then went to the bench to make his first change of the afternoon and it saw the return of Healey after three months on the sidelines. He replaced Nombe in attack.

The striker made an instant impact, restoring the Dons’ lead just five minutes after coming on. Reeves created it with a low ball into the area which deflected into the path of Healey. He swivelled on the spot and saw his initial shot deflect back off him and then past Oxley and across the line. 1-2.

Their lead, however, lasted just two minutes as Southend equalised for a second time from a Sam Mantom corner – Kiernan the man to head in the leveller from eight yards out. 2-2.

Nicholls kept the scores as they were shortly after, courtesy of a terrific reflex save to deny Humphrys. Martin then made his second switch, replacing Reeves with Kasumu in midfield.

Kasumu almost provided an instant assist, getting in the way of a clearance and providing Mason with an opportunity to score his second. Mason managed to get the ball past Oxley but a covering defender was able to clear away.

The midfielder also had a cross-cum-shot which nearly caught out Oxley – the Southend keeper managing to get back, in the end, and keep the ball from crossing the line.

Neither side were able to grab a decisive late goal, meaning both remain in the bottom three in Sky Bet League One. For the Dons, their next opportunity to move closer to safety is on Sunday at home to Portsmouth.

MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington (c), Walsh, Poole, Reeves (Kasumu 75), Gilbey, McGrandles, Mason, Houghton, Brittain, Nombe (Healey 58).

Subs: Moore, Williams, Cargill, Agard, Boateng.

Goals: Mason (13), Healey (64)

Booked: Houghton, Gilbey

Southend United: Oxley, Bwomono, Milligan, Humphrys (Kelman 82), Dieng (c), Hopper, McLaughlin (Goodship 90+2), Kiernan, Mantom, Demetriou, White.

Subs: Bishop, Cox, Hamilton, Hutchinson, Kinali.

Goals: Demetriou (pen 31), Kiernan (66)

Booked: Dieng

Referee: N Hair

Attendance: 6,189 (380 away)

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