MK Dons face Sheffield United this afternoon looking to end a testing week with a victory.
Saturday’s loss saw the Dons fall to within just one point of the bottom three in Sky Bet League One and with two weeks until their next league outing due to the Emirates FA Cup, the team will be looking to record a much-needed three points to reignite their ascent up the table.
They do have a strong away record to lean on, having won four of their seven league fixtures on the road this season. Not too many teams have scored more than the men from MK1 away from home and they also hold the joint-second best defensive record on the road, which is especially important considering games between the Dons and Sheff Utd have often been close and decided by the odd-goal, if at all.
Sheff Utd are unbeaten in their last 10 league outings and go into today's match just four points off the automatic-promotion spots in fourth place.
Seven of those 10 unbeaten matches resulted in victories for the Blades, who are one of, if not the most in form side in Sky Bet League One.
They’ve conceded just 17 times this season which is the fifth best record in the division, while their total of 24 goals scored is bettered by only league-leaders Scunthorpe United.
At Bramall Lane, they’ve proved exceptionally strong, having lost just once and won four of their six home matches. Nobody has conceded fewer than Chris Wilder’s men when at home, however their total of nine home goals scored is surprisingly low given their winning record.
The Dons endured a difficult afternoon against Southend United at Stadium MK, in what proved to be Karl Robinson’s final match in charge of the Club.
They fell behind just two minutes into the game when Simon Cox slotted in from close-range.
The men from MK1 grew into the game after the opener but Southend were able to double their advantage in the 25th minute when Anthony Wordsworth found the net with a low strike from distance.
It was Wordsworth who sealed the victory for the Shrimpers in the second half – the midfielder scored direct from a free-kick – capping off a disappointing day for the Dons, who parted company with Robinson 24 hours later.
On 68 minutes, Bradford edged ahead for the first time when Matt Kilgallon’s cross was turned in by Timothee Dieng but their lead lasted less than five minutes as the Blades drew level through a Chris Basham effort – a goal which maintained the Sheffield outfit’s impressive unbeaten run.
United restored their lead six minutes after the re-start courtesy of another Duffy and Sharp combination, however the Bantams equalised once again 10 minutes later – Jordy Hiwula grabbed the goal this time after Wilder’s side failed to clear a corner.
The Blades went in front on 18 minutes when striker Billy Sharp headed in a cross from Mark Duffy but Bradford hit back just before half-time through Billy Clarke.
Sheff Utd were forced to settle for a share of the spoils with Bradford City after a six-goal thriller at Valley Parade.
Richie Barker: “It’s probably the best game to have. If you can’t get up for this, you won't get up for anything. We’re going to an in-form team, who are one of the favourites in front of a big crowd. It’s a good opportunity to the lads to turn it around and, on the flip side, they’ve got to start again in terms of trying to impress somebody new.”
Chris Wilder: “We have to take their league position away and look at them as a team, look at the players they’ve got and look at the threats. This, for me, is still one of the toughest games we’ll have at Bramall Lane this year. It’s one we need to approach in the right way.”
Dons wins at Bramall Lane: 2
Dons wins: 5
His assistant referees are Akil Howson and Philip Dermott while the fourth official is Peter Gibbons.
The Wiltshire official produced three of his season total of 48 yellow cards in that Stadium MK clash. This will be his 15th game of the campaign and he’s still only made one dismissal.
Simon Hooper will be the man in the middle today, taking charge of the Dons for the second time this season having refereed the 2-2 draw with Millwall back in August.
Defender James Wilson and striker Leon Clarke are both nursing ankle injuries which is expected to sideline them for this afternoon's outing, meaning Wilder could name an unchanged team.
Sheff Utd have just two players unavailable for today's clash.
That leaves Chuks Aneke (knee) and Scott Wootton (knee) as the only two absentees.
Dean Lewington and Joe Walsh both return from their suspensions, too, while Jack Hendry (ankle) should be fit to play despite picking up a knock against Southend.
The Dons are hoping to have George Baldock (hamstring) and Kieran Agard (knee) back available for selection after the pair returned to training this week.
Last draw: 0-0, 9 Mar 2013 (Bramall Lane)
Draws at Bramall Lane: 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
Dean Bowditch: 17/2
Nicky Maynard: 17/2
Kieran Agard: 13/2
Caolan Lavery: 5/1
Matt Done: 5/1
Billy Sharp: 100/30
Sheff Utd: 10/11
Dons win: 29/10
Last Sheff Utd win: 2-1, 28 Oct 2014 (Stadium MK)
Sheff Utd wins at Bramall Lane: 1
Sheff Utd wins: 4 MK Dons PlayerHD will have live commentary of today's match, with coverage starting at 2.55pm –
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A full match report will be available to view on mkdons.com straight after the final whistle.