MK Dons will look to return to winning ways today when they take on Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Graham Alexander’s men took six points from their opening two league matches before falling to their first league defeat of the season in midweek.
This afternoon’s match in Essex provides an opportunity for the Dons to get back on the winning trail right away and make it nine points out of a possible 12 to start their Sky Bet League Two campaign.
Goals have been a big reason for the strong start made by Alexander’s side, with only Crewe Alexandra and Wrexham (8) having found the net more times than MK Dons (7) so far. Mo Eisa has three of their seven goals, netting in each of the first three games – he is only the second player in Club history to achieve that feat alongside Keith Andrews.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Colchester United will be in search of their first league victory of the season this afternoon at the JobServe Community Stadium.
The U’s, who saw their opening-day clash with Swindon Town postponed, were beaten 2-1 by Bradford City last Saturday before suffering a 2-0 loss at home to AFC Wimbledon in midweek.
Ben Garner’s side can, however, take confidence from an impressive display against Championship opposition in the Carabao Cup earlier this month – Colchester held Cardiff City to a 2-2 draw in South Wales before being defeated on penalties.
Colchester have welcomed 11 new faces to Essex this summer, including six young talents from Premier League clubs. One of those, Joe Taylor, has already found the net twice this season, including the equaliser in their aforementioned draw at Cardiff.
LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons fell to their first Sky Bet League Two defeat of the season in midweek as they were beaten 2-1 by Crawley Town at the Broadfield Stadium.
Nick Tsaroulla put the home side ahead with a tight-angled finish just past the quarter-hour mark, but Mo Eisa levelled the scores for the Dons, netting in his third successive game after latching onto MJ Williams’ pass.
Crawley, though, restored their lead – and earned the victory – seven minutes into the second half when Danilo Orsi capped off a neat attacking move with a curling effort into the bottom right corner.
Colchester United were beaten 2-0 by AFC Wimbledon in their opening home match of the 2023/24 season.
The U’s had two good chances to open the scoring in the first half – first through John Akinde, who was foiled from close range by the goalkeeper, and then with Joe Taylor firing wide with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Colchester were punished on 54 minutes when Joe Tilley converted from Josh Neufville’s cross. Those two players combined again to double AFC Wimbledon’s lead five minutes from time – Tilley the scorer to complete his brace.
Graham Alexander: “There is no form at the moment, it's too early. Whatever the league table looks like now, it's irrelevant. No-one knows how many points it will need for us to be successful, you've just got to get as many points on the board by picking them up all the time - that's all we can focus on.
“Every team is motivated to win games, and we have to go there and make sure we're ready to earn the right to win the game. We cannot set our standard of performance by what the opposition bring to the game, we have to set our own levels. If we can do that consistently, I believe that is key to a successful season.”
Ben Garner: “They have maintained a lot of their squad so have a lot of talent there. They have added some experience and know-how over the summer. They have had a strong start, although they lost at Crawley (Town) on Tuesday night. We want to hope that’s the case again on Saturday.
“We respect them but the focus has to be on us and getting our performance levels right. If we do that, we’ll come out with the result that we want.”
MK Dons Head Coach Graham Alexander revealed no fresh injury concerns when he met with the media ahead of today’s game at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Matthew Dennis, Conor Grant, Dean Lewington and Charlie Waller have all yet to feature following pre-season injuries and it remains to be seen whether any of the quartet will be fit enough to be involved in Essex.
Colchester United will be without summer signing Ellis Iandolo, who is expected to undergo surgery on an ankle injury sustained in last weekend’s game at Bradford City.
In more positive news for the U’s, defender Fiacre Kelleher is back training after missing the opening matches of the season with a calf injury. He could make his return today against MK Dons.
FACING THEIR FORMER TEAM
Alex Gilbey and Tommy Smith both make returns to Essex this afternoon, the former returning to the club where he began his football career.
Gilbey progressed through the Academy set-up at Colchester United and made 121 appearances in Blue and White before joining Wigan Athletic in June 2016.
Smith, meanwhile, enjoyed two spells with the U’s, including a three-year stint between August 2020 and June this year – in total, he played 101 times for the Essex club.
Carl Brook will be the man in the middle this afternoon.
The East Sussex official has taken charge of two matches so far this season, producing 11 yellow cards. He has yet to brandish his red card or award a penalty.
Today will be the sixth time he has refereed MK Dons, with his most recent appointment being last season’s 1-1 draw with Portsmouth at Stadium MK. That day, he booked four Pompey players and sent off their defender Joe Morrell for an off-the-ball incident.
His assistant referees are Sam Ogles and Stuart Butler while the fourth official is Daniel Bonneywell.
HEAD TO HEAD
MK Dons wins: 12
MK Dons wins at the JobServe Community Stadium: 5
Last MK Dons win: 1-0, 17 Feb 2015 (JobServe Community Stadium)
Biggest MK Dons win: 6-0, 29 Nov 2014 (Stadium MK)
Draws at the JobServe Community Stadium: 0
Last draw: 0-0, 1 Jan 2014 (Stadium MK)
Colchester United wins: 6
Colchester United wins at the JobServe Community Stadium: 3
Last Colchester United win: 2-0, 27 Apr 2019 (JobServe Community Stadium)
Biggest Colchester United win: 3-1, 26 Nov 2013 (JobServe Community Stadium)
ELSEWHERE IN SKY BET LEAGUE TWO
Accrington Stanley v Harrogate Town
Crawley Town v Gillingham
Crewe Alexandra v Walsall
Doncaster Rovers v Notts County
Forest Green Rovers v Newport County
Grimsby Town v Mansfield Town
Morecambe v Bradford City
Stockport County v Barrow
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon
Tranmere Rovers v Salford City
Wrexham v Swindon Town
FOLLOW IT LIVE
Tickets can be bought at the JobServe Community Stadium ahead of kick-off from the self-serve ticket machine in the Club Shop - sales will be card only. Tickets are no longer available to buy through MK Dons.
Tickets bought today will be subject to matchday increases and will be priced at £23.50 adults, £18.25 concessions and £14.50 under-18s.
Can't make the game? Listen LIVE on iFollow MK Dons with an Audio Match Pass - CLICK HERE to purchase your Audio Match Pass for £2.50!
Live text updates will also be provided on the Match Centre as well as Twitter, while a full report will be available to read shortly after the full-time whistle. Post-match reaction and highlights will follow after.