MK Dons begin their 2016 FA Youth Cup campaign tonight with a tie against AFC Hornchurch at Stadium MK.
Although they are without a win in their last four matches, the young Dons will no doubt be excited at the prospect of turning around their form at Stadium MK– it will be the first time a Dons side has played a home Stadium MK tie since the 2012/13 campaign.
Most, if not all of the squad will have played in the stadium before, having been involved in the Academy Challenge Matches as schoolboys and they’ll be hoping that experience will help guide them through this tricky tie.
Kick-off is at 7pm. In the event of a draw after 90 minutes, the tie will go to extra-time and then penalites if required.
National League Alliance outfit AFC Hornchurch made it through four rounds of qualifying to reach this stage of the competition and will therefore be full of confidence when they arrive in Milton Keynes this evening.
After just about seeing off Hullbridge Sports in an action-packed seven-goal thriller back in early September, the Urchins cruised through their three other qualifiers against Tower Hamlets, Tilbury and Rushden & Higham United, scoring a combined 12 goals and conceding just once.
In their six matches this season, the Londoners have failed to score three or more goals only once, while in terms of their defensive record, they’ve kept clean sheets in two of their last three matches.
Edu Rubio: “It’s the FA Youth Cup, which is one of the most prestigious competitions for young players in the world – it’s a privilege to be involved and the team are very excited.
“They will have to manage the pressure of the occasion. It’s a game that’s different from a league game – because it’s a tournament, the winning is much more important than usual but it’s important we also stay true to our DNA and our philosophy.
“The opponents are a bit of an unknown but we know they are a good Football Club who are going to come here to win the game. They’ll want to be competitive and we have to respect them.”
Second-year scholar Hugo Logan will captain Rubio’s side, which is set to include a number of youngsters that supporters will recognise.
Newly-turned professionals Oran Jackson and Brandon Thomas-Asante are both in tonight’s squad as are the likes of David Kasumu, Andrew Osei-Bonsu and Sam Nombe who were involved in the first-team’s EFL Cup tie at Newport County earlier this season.
Second-year scholars Juma Omar, Peter Kioso and Harry Stratton are two others that fans may be aware of, along with first-years Nathan Pickworth, Finn Tapp, Joe Evans, Tommy Hope and Bradley Bell.
Entry to the match is priced at just £3 adults and £1 under-18s, with Gate 7 open from 6pm. Entry must be paid for cash only.
Can’t make it? Supporters will be able to follow the action via the official matchday blog on mkdons.com which will be live from 6pm, as well as the Club’s official social media channels - !Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook, Twitter