MK Dons kick-off their 2023/24 campaign this afternoon when they take on EFL newcomers Wrexham at the STōK Cae Ras.
Today’s opener will see Graham Alexander take charge of the Dons for the first time in a competitive fixture, following his appointment as Head Coach earlier in the summer.
Seven new faces have arrived alongside Alexander to bolster the ranks ahead of what MK Dons will be hoping is a successful season. The Dons haven’t finished lower than fourth in any of their previous fourth-tier campaigns, winning promotion twice.
They will, though, have to end a run of four straight years without an opening-day success. Their last victory on the EFL’s maiden weekend was back in August 2018 – ironically, the start of their promotion-winning campaign out of League Two.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
One of the most talked about clubs outside of the EFL, Wrexham return to the EFL this season after a 15-year absence and, backed by their Hollywood owners, will be eager to do the double.
The North Wales outfit, owned by American actors Rob McElhenny and Ryan Reynolds, have captured the imagination of many across the globe but have also done their talking on the pitch, lifting the National League title last term.
Collecting a mightily impressive 111 points in 2022/23, Wrexham have managed to retain the majority of their promotion-winning squad, including former England international Ben Foster and top scorer Paul Mullin.
The Red Dragons also enjoyed a pre-season trip to the US this summer, competing against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in front of crowds of over 50,000 - they beat the latter 3-1 at the Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.
LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons wrapped up their pre-season campaign last weekend with a friendly against League One side Northampton Town at Stadium MK.
A second-half header from Warren O’Hora had cancelled out Mitch Pinnock’s early opener but late strikes from Peter Abimbola and Ben Fox earned the Cobblers a 3-1 victory.
Wrexham concluded their pre-season friendly schedule at Subaru Park in Philadelphia, playing out a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union II.
Thomas O’Connor put the Red Dragons ahead three minutes before half-time but Jeremy Rafanello levelled the scores in first-half injury time to earn his side a share of the spoils.
Graham Alexander: “(The Wrexham story) has been great for football. I've been there, at a club with a high profile when the spotlight is on you, and you have to try and thrive under it, because the expectations can be high. Wrexham have managed that over the last couple of years and they have created an excitement about them.
“I think that spotlight is good. It's not just Wrexham and MK Dons supporters interested in Saturday’s game but there will be a worldwide audience. It's up to us and our supporters to go there and show we're a competitor as well.”
Phil Parkinson: “It’s a very important day in the history of Wrexham at the weekend to be back in the EFL after 15 years outside the structure. We’re very excited about that. It’s going to be a real challenge and there are a lot of good sides in the division.
“I’ve been a part of an amazing journey and the next chapter starts at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon. The aim is to create some more great memories for the people of Wrexham and not just that, but the wider audience of our supporters which we’ve witnessed on our American tour.”
MK Dons have been without four players due to injury this pre-season and it remains to be seen whether any of the quartet will return in time for today’s opener.
Matthew Dennis, Conor Grant, Dean Lewington have been sidelined through most of this summer, while Charlie Waller has also missed the last two friendlies.
This afternoon could see six of the summer signings make their debuts for MK Dons while Alex Gilbey will be hoping to feature in a Dons shirt for the first time since March 2020.
Wrexham look set to be without last season’s top scorer, Paul Mullin, after he suffered a punctured lung in their friendly with Manchester United last month.
Centre-back Will Boyle is their only signing so far this window and could make his bow this afternoon. Ben Foster, who signed a new deal this summer to remain at the STōK Cae Ras, is expected to be between the sticks.
FACING THEIR FORMER SIDES
Tom Reeves will be the man with the whistle today at the STōK Cae Ras.
The Warwickshire official took charge of 36 matches last season, including 15 in Sky Bet League Two. He produced a total of 115 yellow cards and four red cards, while also awarding 11 penalties.
He has refereed MK Dons on two previous occasions, most recently the 1-1 draw with Accrington Stanley in August last year. That afternoon he brandished his yellow card on six occasions and awarded Accrington a second-half penalty.
Reeves’ assistant referees this afternoon are Christopher Ward and Ollie Williams while the fourth official is Ed Duckworth.
HEAD TO HEAD
MK Dons wins: 4
MK Dons wins at the STōK Cae Ras: 1
Last MK Dons win: 4-1, 8 Apr 2008 (Stadium MK)
Biggest MK Dons win: 4-1, 8 Apr 2008 (Stadium MK)
Draws at the STōK Cae Ras: 1
Last draw: 0-0, 26 Feb 2005 (STōK Cae Ras)
Wrexham wins: 1
Wrexham wins at the STōK Cae Ras: 1
Last Wrexham win: 1-0, 19 Jan 2008 (STōK Cae Ras)
Biggest Wrexham win: 1-0, 19 Jan 2008 (STōK Cae Ras)
ELSEWHERE IN SKY BET LEAGUE TWO
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Forest Green Rovers v Salford City
Grimsby Town v AFC Wimbledon
Morecambe v Walsall
Stockport County v Gillingham
Sutton United v Notts County
Tranmere Rovers v Barrow
FOLLOW IT LIVE
Away tickets for this fixture have SOLD OUT, with 1,165 MK Dons supporters set to travel to North Wales.
There will be no further sales for MK Dons supporters and tickets will not be available to purchase at the stadium todaay.
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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.