MK Dons will be looking to follow up their first Stadium MK success of the season by securing their first home league victory of the campaign this afternoon.
In order to do that they’ll need to improve defensively, having conceded 12 times in their last six home matches. They also must add a cutting edge up front, with only seven goals to their name at Stadium MK all season.
Reason for optimism? With the exception of the 2013/14 campaign, the Dons have traditionally enjoyed success in November – they remained unbeaten during November in both 2012/13 and 2014/15, while they only lost once in the month last season in the Sky Bet Championship.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Walsall sit mid-table in Sky Bet League One and are currently riding a five-game unbeaten run in the league, a stretch which is made up of three victories and two draws.
One of those three wins - a 2-0 success at Swindon Town last month - was the Saddlers’ first away from home all season, putting an end to a spell of six games without a triumph on the road.
Four of their seven away league fixtures have ended in draws, which is part of the reason why they are also one of the division’s lowest scorers away from home. They have, though, only conceded seven times on their travels, a total which is bettered by only Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City – teams who occupy second and third place in Sky Bet League One.
One to watch
Erhun Oztumer – Nominated for the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month away for October, the diminutive midfielder has been in terrific form all season for the Saddlers. He is their top goalscorer with eight goals to his name, while he also has two assists. The Dons will need to shut him down in order to have any chance of success today.
The Dons ended a run of 14 games without a home win courtesy of a 3-2 success in the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Still under temporary charge of Richie Barker, the men from MK1 raced out to a three-goal lead over opponents Spennymoor Town courtesy of strikes from Ben Reeves, Brandon Thomas-Asante and Kieran Agard – Thomas-Asante’s goal his first in senior football.
Spennymoor pulled a goal back late in the first-half and after a quiet second-half, managed to grab a second with seven minutes to play. However, the Dons were able to hold on to secure victory, booking their place in the Second Round but, importantly, registering that elusive first home win.
“They’ve recruited extremely well with some good, hungry young players. Without being disrespectful, you could say they don’t have too many well-known players but they have some very good individuals who can turn a game.”
Richie Barker: “It’s going to be a tough game because they are on a decent run. They are continuing the philosophy that Dean (Smith) started a good few years ago. They play a very similar way to us in a very similar shape.
Walsall threatened throughout the contest, with Erhun Oztumer going closest to an equaliser through a fierce strike, but they weren’t able to overturn the deficit, thus exiting the competition at the first attempt.
The Silkmen’s winner came just before Walsall’s Joe Edwards was denied a superb solo goal by Craig Ross’ low save.
Despite 46 places separating the Saddlers and Macclesfield Town, it was the latter who came out on top courtesy of John McCombe’s header in the 23rd minute.
Walsall also faced non-league opposition in the opening round of the Emirates FA Cup but unlike the Dons, they weren’t able to avoid an upset.
Last Dons win: 3-0, 8 Feb 2014 (Banks’s Stadium)
Dons wins at Stadium MK: 2
Dons wins: 7
Kettle’s assistant referees will be Graeme Fyvie and John Law while the fourth official is Nick Hopton.
The Rutland official, who refereed the Checaktrade Trophy victory over Peterborough United, has shown 51 yellow cards in 11 matches this season but only made two dismissals – both of which came in one game back in September.
Trevor Kettle will be the man in the middle, taking charge of the Dons for the second time this season.
Maz Kouhyar is out long-term after knee surgery.
Midfielder Kieran Morris is a doubt with an ankle injury, as is defender James O’Connor who is struggling with a groin injury.
Walsall have two players away on international duty in Andreas Makris and Liam Kinsella.
Meanwhile, Chuks Aneke and Scott Wootton remain sidelined, although the former continues to edge closer to a return by participating in training.
They may, though, be boosted by the returns of Samir Carruthers (hamstring) and Darren Potter (thigh), who both could be back from injuries which kept them out of the Emirates FA Cup tie last weekend.
The Dons will be without Joe Walsh, who was called-up to the Wales squad earlier this week as an injury replacement for James Collins – the defender has been a virtual ever-present this season.
“We have a chance to make a real statement. I think moving into the top eight with a game in hand is a great incentive for all the players.”
“We played well on Tuesday in the Checkatrade Trophy and I want that momentum to carry on.”
Jon Whitney: “We want to go there and perform, cope with them technically but go and play ourselves.
Last draw: 1-1, 14 Mar 2015 (Banks’s Stadium)
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
for more betting options for today’s Sky Bet League One game - don't forget the Dons benefit every time you win with Sky Bet! here Click
*All odds correct at the time of writing
Ben Reeves: 17/2
Amadou Bakayoko: 15/2
Simeon Jackson: 6/1
Erhun Oztumer: 11/2
Dean Bowditch: 5/1
Kieran Agard: 4/1
Walsall win: 16/5
Dons win: 5/6
Last Walsall win: 3-0, 28 Dec 2014 (Stadium MK)
Walsall wins at Stadium MK: 4
Walsall wins: 6
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. To purchase tickets click here, visit the Box Office/centre:mk kiosk or call 0333 200 5343.
Tickets for today's clash with Walsall are priced from £22 adults, £17 over-65s, £7 under-18s and FREE under-12s, while there are discounts available for members and groups.Tickets can also be bought from the cash-only booths around Stadium MK ahead of kick-off.