MK Dons begin their 2016/17 Emirates FA Cup campaign this afternoon when they entertain Spennymoor Town at Stadium MK.
Today's fixture will be the fifth time they’ve faced non-league opposition in the opening round of the Emirates FA Cup – they currently hold a record of five wins, two draws and no defeats over such teams, including replays.
While this is a chance for the Dons to progress through to the Second Round, it’s also an opportunity for them to record a first home success of the season.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Spennymoor made it through four rounds of qualifying to secure their place in the Emirates FA Cup First Round Proper.
The Moors beat Radcliffe Borough 5-3 back in early September before enjoying victories over Whitby Town, Chorley and Lincoln United without conceding a single goal.
Because of their terrific cup run, Jason Aisnley’s side have three games in hand on most in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Divsion but they still sit sixth in the table – had they have won their three games in hand, they’d be top of the table by three points.
A major factor in their impressive league standing is their ability to score goals – they’ve found the net 51 times already this season, while they’ve twice hit seven in a game.
Despite an impressive away performance, the Dons left Bramall Lane empty handed after a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United.
The Blades took the lead after just six minutes when Stefan Scougall scrambled a ball past David Martin from eight yards out.
Barker’s Dons grew into the contest after falling behind and deservedly levelled through Darren Potter, who drilled home from the edge of the area five minutes after half-time.
However, Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp put his side back in front on the hour mark with a close-range finish – one which sealed the Dons’ fate in the contest.
The visitors, though, had a man sent off not long after the re-start and that allowed the Moors to run riot in the second half, with goals from Mark Anderson, Joe Tait and Fisher securing all three points at the Brewery Field.
Ainsley’s team took the lead courtesy of Nathan Fisher’s curling shot from 18 yards but Workington equalised less than 20 minutes later.
Spennymoor warmed-up for their FA Cup tie at Stadium MK with a convincing 4-1 success at home to Workington in midweek.
“We’ll be looking to win the game and turn around the mentality of the place. It’s vital that the players try to get a win as soon as possible – hopefully that can be Saturday.”
Richie Barker: “We definitely won’t be underestimating (Spennymoor). They’ve won four games to get here and would be top of their league if they’d have played and won their games in hand. Cup upsets do happen and they will happen on Saturday, so we need to make sure we’re not one of them.”
for more betting options for today’s Emirates FA Cup tie - don't forget the Dons benefit every time you win with Sky Bet! here Click
*All odds correct at the time of writing
Mark Anderson: 11/1
Nathan Fisher: 10/1
Brandon Thomas-Asante: 8/1
Dean Bowditch: 4/1
Nicky Maynard: 4/1
Kieran Agard: 3/1
Spennymoor Town win: 12/1
Dons win: 1/5
No previous meetings.
Meanwhile, today's assistant referees are Nicholas Barnard and Paul Hobday, with Lisa Rashid the fourth official.
Hatzidakis has taken charge of nine matches this season and produced 28 yellow cards. He has also made three dismissals, two of which have come in his past two games.
Non-league official Constantine Hatzidakis will be the man in the middle, refereeing the Dons for the very first time.
Former Sunderland winger Adam Mitchell, signed recently from Darlington, may be handed his first start for the Moors but Ainsley may wish to stick with the team that won so convincingly in their last outing.
Spennymoor boss Jason Ainsley appears to have a full group of players to choose from.
George C Williams is unavailable due to the terms of his loan deal from Fulham and Chuks Aneke (knee) and Scott Wootton (knee) are also out because of their injuries.
George Baldock is banned after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season against Sheffield United while Samir Carruthers isn’t expected to be involved due to the injury he picked up in that clash at Bramall Lane. Barker also hinted at there being one or two other players carrying knocks.
Barker confirmed to MK Dons PlayerHD that he will name his strongest team possible for today's tie, although he does have a number of first-team players unavailable through suspensions and injuries.
"It's what dreams are made of - a team in League One against lowly Spennymoor Town and what an upset that would be if we make it.”
Jason Ainsley: “It would have been better if it was at home, but what a fantastic stadium to go to - it's going to be a monumental occasion.
Supporters can also stay in touch with the Dons via mkdons.com’s matchday blog, which can be accessed by visiting the home page from midday.
to sign up for as little as £4.49 a month!hereclick !Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook, TwitterThere will also be full coverage on the Club’s social media channels –
A full match report will be available to view on mkdons.com straight after the final whistle.