MK Dons begin their Carabao Cup journey tonight as they travel to Forest Green Rovers.
Robbie Neilson’s side kicked-off their 2017/18 campaign on Saturday against Wigan Athletic but were unable to secure an opening day success, losing 1-0 at Stadium MK courtesy of Nick Powell’s first-half finish.
They will therefore be out to claim that first triumph tonight in Gloucestershire and, in the process, progress through to the second round of the EFL’s cup competition.
The men from MK1 have made it past the opening stage in each of the past seven seasons and Neilson and his team will hope to extend that record tonight on their first-ever visit to The New Lawn.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
Tonight sees Forest Green Rovers make their Carabao Cup debut, having reached the EFL for the first time in the club’s history.
Mark Cooper’s side were promoted to Sky Bet League Two from the National League via the play-offs last season – after a third-place finish in the league table, the Gloucestershire outfit defeated Tranmere Rovers in the final at Wembley Stadium.
Rovers do boast plenty of EFL experience in their playing squad, including the likes of Scott Laird, Liam Noble and former Don Keanu Marsh-Brown. They’ll no doubt lean on that experience as they look to make a winning start in their inaugural Carabao Cup fixture.
The Dons fell to their first opening day defeat since 2008 as they were beaten 1-0 by Wigan Athletic at Stadium MK.
The Latics the lead through Nick Powell on 38 minutes but the away side were reduced to 10 men shortly afterwards when defender Callum Elder was high and late on George Williams.
As the Dons pushed to make their man advantage count they too were on the receiving end of a red card – Scott Wootton the player dismissed for denying Michael Jacobs what was judged a clear goalscoring opportunity.
That didn’t stop the men from MK1 pushing for an equaliser although they weren’t able to find the goal which would have earned them a share of the spoils.
Forest Green began life in Sky Bet League Two with a 2-2 draw at home to Barnet.
Striker Christian Doidge headed home a Charlie Cooper corner to give his side a 41st-minute lead with their first EFL goal before the same man doubled the advantage with a lob over Bees keeper James Stephens two minutes later.
Barnet, though, responded in the second half and they halved the deficit in the 58th minute when Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro bundled in after Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s shot deflected off Bradley Collins in the Rovers’ goal.
Then, just after the hour-mark, Campbell-Ryce then turned from provider to goalscorer as they squeezed a low effort into the bottom right-corner from 20 yards out to take two points off the EFL newcomers.
Robbie Neilson: “They had a good 2-2 draw with Barnet at the weekend. We watched the game, as we’ve watched a few of their games, and they pass the ball really well. They play a different formation where they try to play it through.”
The Dons are without Scott Wootton, who received a one-match ban for the red card he received in Saturday’s opener with Wigan Athletic.
Wootton joins fellow centre-back Joe Walsh on the unavailable list. Walsh serves the final game of his three-match suspension tonight – a suspension which stretches back to last season.
In terms of injuries, Peter Pawlett (ankle knock) will be monitored but otherwise Robbie Neilson has a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Forest Green’s summer signing, Alex Iacoviti, is sidelined after suffering an injury during pre-season.
The Crystal Palace loanee is the only injury concern for Rovers, who are not expected to make too many changes from the team who drew with Barnet on Saturday.
Lee Swabey will be the man in the middle for tonight’s Carabao Cup tie at The New Lawn.
Swabey was involved on opening weekend, refereeing the Sky Bet League One fixture between Southend United and Blackburn Rovers – the Devon official booked three players in the clash at Roots Hall.
He last took charge of the Dons back in December 2016 for the Checkatrade Trophy tie at Yeovil Town. That night he produced four yellow cards and one red card to midfielder Samir Carruthers.
Swabey also brandished a red card in his most recent Forest Green fixture. In a National League play-off tie in April 2015, he sent off Bristol Rovers striker Elliot Harrison and booked three Forest Green players.
Tonight’s assistant are Dean Treleaven and Kevin Howick while the fourth official is Robert Dabbs.
No previous meetings.
*all odds correct at the time of writing
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Tickets for tonight's Carabao Cup tie with Forest Green Rovers are priced at just £12 adults, £10 seniors, £7 under-22s and £5 under-16s while under-11s go FREE*.
Tickets can now only be bought at The New Lawn ahead of kick-off, cash only.