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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

05 August 2023 Venue SToK Cae Ras Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Wrexham

All you need to know ahead of tod's season opener at the STōK Cae Ras...

5 August 2023

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.

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.

1st Pre Season Generic 2023 lo res_-7.jpg

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.


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.

Tom Reeves.jpg

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.

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: 1
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)

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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.

Can't make the game? Listen LIVE to full match commentary courtesy of iFollow MK Dons - CLICK HERE to purchase an 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.

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Match Reports

Report: Wrexham AFC 3-5 MK Dons

MK Dons’ season opener against Wrexham AFC at the STōK Cae Ras…

5 August 2023

MK Dons claimed a 5-3 victory in an eight-goal opening-day success at the STōK Cae Ras.

Graham Alexander led the Dons to three points in his first game as Head Coach, with Jonathan Leko hitting a second-half brace alongside strikes from Mo Eisa and Daniel Harvie and own goal from Eoghan O’Connell.

The new MK Dons Head Coach named his first starting XI of the 2023/24 season, which included a debut MK Dons start for Craig MacGillivray, Cameron Norman and MJ Williams.
The returning Alex Gilbey, who was also named in the starting line-up, was given captaincy for the Dons’ season opener at the STōK Cae Ras.
MK Dons had the perfect start to their season opener, which saw them lead just five minutes following the starting whistle.
Ethan Robson delivered a curling free-kick with his left foot that located the back post, a pass that caused trouble for the Wrexham defence. In an attempt to deal with the danger, Eoghan O’Connell nodded the ball into the back of his own net, leaving no chance of stopping the opener. 0-1

An electric start to the fixture continued as both teams seemed fired up for the first Sky Bet League Two fixture of the 2023/24 season.
Although, it was the travelling team who posed more of a threat within the opening stages of the clash. MJ Williams conjured a shot which crashed off the post due to a deflection taken on the way through to its target, just two minutes after the deadlock was broken.
Wrexham looked to respond through Ryan Barnett, who carried the ball down the right and provided the first glimpse at goal for the home side. The number 29 for the hosts set his sights on goal, but his effort didn’t trouble Craig MacGillivray as it travelled high and wide of the target.
Prior to the ten-minute mark, MK Dons continued their strong start which saw them double their advantage through Mo Eisa. The number ten battled his way through numerous Wrexham bodies within the box before poking the ball past Ben Foster, who rushed out his net in an attempt to claim it. 0-2
The attacker was then booked soon after for delaying a quick restart.
Dons’ rear-guard was called into action five minutes following the second goal. Tommy Smith first denied an initial cross into the area before Jack Tucker stood tall to block an attempt that followed.

The Red Dragons started to create more chances, but they were still yet to test MacGillivray in between the sticks.

Leko looked to get creative down the right side to provide a cross for his teammates in blue, who surged into the area. His pass was turned behind for a corner, which was later dealt with by the trailing team.
Ben Foster ensured that Jonathan Leko didn’t increase the deficit after he stretched to palm away the number seven’s effort from the edge of the area.
Minutes before the break, the Welsh side pulled one back through Jacob Mendy, who placed the ball in at the far post after it fell kindly for the number 19 following an initial saved effort. 1-2
Mo Eisa linked up with Jonathan Leko in an attempt to restore the two-goal lead as they broke behind the backline, but Ben Foster was quick to react and prevented any further danger before the interval.

Wrexham had come out the blocks swiftly at the restart, which saw the Dons under early pressure. However, the defence had soaked up enough pressure to force the ball back into the host’s half.
This granted Alex Gilbey a chance to snatch the ball high-up the field before laying it into the path of Jonathan Leko. The number seven shifted to his left before he unleashed a rocket of a strike from the edge of the area, that located the bottom-left corner and restored MK Dons’ two-goal lead.1-3

The start to the second-half replicated that of the first for Graham Alexander’s men. The third goal scored produced a higher intensity, which forced the Red Dragons to turn over the ball multiple times.
MK Dons replicated their first-half showing after they increased their advantage to 1-4 through Jonathan Leko. Mo Eisa slotted the ball through to the number seven, who remained composed enough to battle off his marker and find the back of the net.
A brilliant battle form Graham Alexander’s men awarded them with a three-goal advantage with just over 20 minutes to play.

For the first time since the opening stages of the restart, Wrexham created a chance at goal. However, their attempt was another that missed the mark.
The hosts created a few more chances, which saw Ollie Palmer with an effort from close-range. Fortunately, Craig MacGillivray spread himself wide enough to prevent the chance.
On the 78-minute mark, Ashley Hunter made his MK Dons debut a day after signing for the club. He replaced Jonathan Leko, who left the field of play with a brace.
Eight minutes prior to the end of regulation time, Wrexham halved their deficit through substitute Jordan Davies. The number seven produced a strong strike, which removed all hope of preventing the goal. 2-4
Wrexham continued to apply the pressure in the latter stages of the clash, but MK Dons remained calm in their defensive approach to withstand any further danger.
Just after the seven minutes of added time was displayed, Academy second-year Scholar Phoenix Scholtz made his senior MK Dons debut in place of Mo Eisa.
Although the game entered its closing stages, the action didn’t end there.
Daniel Harvie provided the Dons’ fifth and final goal after he progressed up the field and produced a finish like that of a Centre-Forward. A well-placed strike that located the bottom-left corner of the net. 2-5

Wrexham responded instantly through Anthony Forde, who made it 3-5, but it was too little too late for the Welsh side in the eight-goal thriller to start the 2023/24 campaign.

MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, O’Hora, Williams, Leko (Hunter 78), Gilbey (C), Eisa (Scholtz 90+1), Smith, Robson, Harvie
Subs: Harness, Holland, Ilunga, Anker, Devoy
Goals: Own Goal 5, Eisa 9, Leko 51 63, Harvie 90+5
Booked: Eisa 12, Norman 67

Wrexham AFC: Foster, O’Connell, Tozer (C), O’Connor, Barnett, Jones, Cannon (Davies 60), Lee, Mendy, Waters (Palmer 60), Dalby (Bickerstaff 60)
Subs: Howard, Hayden, Hosannah, Forde
Goals: Mendy 41, Davies 82, Forde 90+6
Booked: Lee Elliot 22, O’Connell 26

Referee: T Reeves
Attendance: 10,205 (1,115)

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