MK Dons begin their home Sky Bet League Two campaign this afternoon when they take on Tranmere Rovers at Stadium MK.
Buoyed by their opening-day success at Wrexham, Graham Alexander’s men will be out to make it back-to-back league victories to start the 2023/24 campaign – a feat they last achieved in 2018/19, the last time they were at this level.
Nobody scored more goals in matchday one of the new League Two season than the Dons, who will be hoping they can transfer that firepower into today’s encounter as they look to start off on the right foot at Stadium MK – a venue which saw only four home league triumphs last term.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Tranmere Rovers kicked off their third successive season in Sky Bet League Two last weekend with defeat at home to Barrow.
The Lilywhites finished 12th in 2022/23 – a campaign during which they parted ways with long-serving manager Micky Mellon. Ian Dawes replaced him on a temporary basis from March before being handed the job on a full-time basis ahead of this season.
Six new faces have arrived at Prenton Park this summer, including experienced strikers Kristian Dennis and Luke Norris as well as club legend Connor Jennings, returning to Merseyside after three years away.
Norris was amongst the scorers in midweek as Tranmere upset League One opposition in the Carabao Cup – a result which provides a glimpse at the quality of Dawes’ squad for the 2023/24 season.
LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons were beaten 2-0 by Wycombe Wanderers in midweek, exiting the Carabao Cup at the Round One stage.
Graham Alexander’s men had the better of the first half, going close on a number of occasions. Warren O’Hora was twice denied by the goalkeeper while Jonathan Leko, Alex Gilbey and Mo Eisa also went threatened an opener – the latter hitting the crossbar with a 35-yard strike.
Wycombe, though, broke the deadlock on 73 minutes through substitute Brandon Hanlan, who converted from close range. Chris Forino then headed in a second for the Chairboys, who progressed to Round Two at the Dons’ expense.
Tranmere Rovers pulled off a Carabao Cup upset on Tuesday evening, beating Barnsley on penalties to secure their place in the second round.
Tranmere went in front on 24 minutes, rewarded for a positive start with Luke Norris’ goal from a well-worked free-kick. Barnsley, however, equalised in first-half stoppage-time courtesy of Herbie Kane.
Sam Taylor restored Rovers’ lead with a finish from the edge of the area, only for Barnsley to, again, strike in stoppage-time to send the tie to penalties. Tranmere, ultimately, held their nerve to secure a 7-6 shoot-out success, with Jack Shepherd missing the decisive spot-kick.
Graham Alexander: “The task on Saturday will be as tough as it was last Saturday, for different reasons. If we think the level of opposition will change drastically each week, then we’re wrong.
“We have to be at our best every single week and that’s why I like to keep the focus on us and what we can do. I know what we are capable of, regardless of who we are playing against, and we want to start off our league campaign here with a win.”
Ian Dawes: “MK Dons play a back three like Barrow did, but they won’t play it in the same style as Barrow did. The spaces are in different places, and they’ll be up and at them a bit more, like Graham Alexander’s teams are, credit to them.
“It will be a challenge, a different type of challenge, but every game is, it’s just important that we get our organisation right out of possession and our patterns of play that will hurt them when we’re in possession of the ball, and ultimately it’s about getting a result.”
MK Dons welcomed Conor Grant back into the matchday squad on Tuesday evening – his first appearance all summer owing to an injury suffered early on in pre-season. Graham Alexander told the media on Wednesday that Grant is still short of fitness after his lay-off.
Meanwhile, Dean Lewington is still ‘a couple of weeks’ away from returning to training. Matthew Dennis is further along in his rehabilitation but, like Grant, won’t be rushed back into action after missing several weeks of pre-season training.
Kane Hemmings returned to action for Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday evening and will, once again, be in contention this afternoon.
Luke Norris and Sam Taylor both scored in midweek after being handed starts by manager Ian Dawes. They will be pushing for a place in the XI today along with summer recruit Kristian Dennis.
FACING THEIR FORMER SIDE
Sunny Gill will run the rule over this afternoon’s affair at Stadium MK.
The third-year EFL official has already taken charge of two matches this season, producing a total of 11 yellow cards. He has yet to show his red card or award a penalty.
Today will be only the second time he has refereed MK Dons, following on from the Emirates FA Cup tie with Portsmouth back in November last year. That afternoon he booked two Dons players and awarded Pompey two penalties.
His assistant referees are Steven Plane and Andrew Hickman while the fourth official is Declan O’Shea.
HEAD TO HEAD
MK Dons wins: 10
MK Dons wins at Stadium MK: 5
Last MK Dons win: 3-0, 16 Mar 2013 (Stadium MK)
Biggest MK Dons win: 3-0, 16 Mar 2013 (Stadium MK); 3-0, 9 Apr 2012 (Stadium MK)
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
Last draw: 1-1, 29 Sep 2018 (Stadium MK)
Tranmere Rovers wins: 7
Tranmere Rovers wins at Stadium MK: 2
Last Tranmere Rovers win: 3-1, 2 Nov 2019 (Stadium MK)
Biggest Tranmere Rovers win: 4-2, 30 Oct 2010 (Prenton Park)
ELSEWHERE IN SKY BET LEAGUE TWO
AFC Wimbledon v Wrexham
Barrow v Sutton United
Bradford City v Colchester United
Gillingham v Accrington Stanley
Harrogate Town v Forest Green Rovers
Mansfield Town v Morecambe
Newport County v Doncaster Rovers
Notts County v Grimsby Town
Salford City v Crawley Town
Swindon Town v Crewe Alexandra
Walsall v Stockport County
FOLLOW IT LIVE
Tickets will be available to buy right up until kick-off from the Box Office, priced from £26 adults, £20 over-65s and under-25s, £8 under-21s and £5 under-14s, while under-7s can watch from as little as £3. To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933.
Can't make the game? Supporters can LISTEN to this fixture live on iFollow MK Dons for £2.50 - to purchase an Audio Match Pass CLICK HERE!
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.