Just six points separate MK Dons and Rochdale – a gap Robbie Neilson’s men will be looking to close today when the two sides face each other at Stadium MK.
They will therefore be looking to get back on the winning trail this afternoon, which is something they’ve done often at Stadium MK since Neilson’s appointment as manager – in their nine home fixtures since his arrival, the Dons have won six.
A victory would see the men from MK1 move to within three points of the Dale, who currently sit 12th in the Sky Bet League One table. There is an opportunity for Neilson’s side to climb a place too, should they win and Charlton Athletic lose at home to Walsall.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Rochdale will, themselves, be out to return to winning ways this afternoon, having gone nine matches without a triumph – a run which stretches back to the middle of January.
Despite their recent indifferent form, Keith Hill’s side still have a realistic chance of reaching the Sky Bet League One play-off places – they currently sit nine points adrift of sixth-placed Millwall but have two games in hand on the Lions.
If they are to make a late push for a top-six finish they’ll need to get back to the form they showed prior to the turn of the year when they enjoyed a run of 17 victories in 23 matches – they’ll be looking to kick-start that today at Stadium MK.
Away from home, the Greater Manchester club don’t boast the best of records having won just four of their 16 matches on the road and scored only 14 goals. They have claimed some impressive results, however, including draws away at Sheffield United and Fleetwood Town as well as a victory over Millwall at The Den.
A controversial penalty decision cost MK Dons a deserved point at The Den last weekend.
Neilson’s side looked set to earn a 1-1 draw after Ben Reeves’ 30th-minute strike cancelled out Lee Gregory’s early opener.
In fact, they went close to winning it late on when Nicky Maynard picked out an unmarked Dean Bowditch with an inch-perfect cross but the Dons’ number nine couldn’t keep his header down from eight-yards out.
That miss proved costly as just four minutes later, the Lions were, somewhat dubiously, awarded a spot-kick from which Gregory converted to secure all three points for his side.
Rochdale twice came-from-behind to earn an impressive point against Sky League One leaders Sheffield United.
The Blades opened the scoring after just five minutes through Mark Duffy and they doubled their lead soon after when Daniel Lafferty rifled home from 25-yards.
Rochdale pulled one back in the 20th minute courtesy of Steven Davies before Matty Lund volleyed in an equaliser early on in the second half.
Billy Sharp restored United’s lead with 69 minutes on the clock but Dale weren’t to be denied and they ensured themselves a share of the spoils when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing rounded two defenders and neatly finished past Simon Moore.
Robbie Neilson: “They’ve had a good season. They’ve got some good attacking options and they change their shape and personnel a lot, which makes it quite hard to predict what they are going to do.
“It will be a tough one but we need to make sure we get three points.”
The Dons are without Dean Lewington and George Baldock, who both begin two-match suspensions after collecting 10 yellow cards.
Neilson also confirmed at Thursday’s MKDSA Fans Forum that forward Chuks Aneke looks set to miss the remainder of the season due to the hamstring injury he suffered at Bradford City.
Scott Wootton (knee), who scored the winning goal in the reverse fixture with Rochdale earlier this season, also looks likely to be out until 2017/18.
Rochdale’s Donal McDermott and Matty Lund are both banned for today’s clash as they are serving three and two-match suspensions respectively.
Jack Redshaw (shin splints), Joe Bunney (foot), Joel Taylor (illness) and Niall Canavan (leg) all missed last weekend’s clash with Sheffield United and will be assessed.
Darren Drysdale will be the man in the middle at Stadium MK this afternoon – the first time he has refereed either the Dons or Rochdale this season.
The Lincolnshire official has had 15 appointments in 2016/17 during which time he’s produced 50 yellow cards and two reds.
Dons wins: 6
Dons wins at Stadium MK: 2
Last Dons win: 3-2, 25 Apr 2015 (Crown Oil Arena)
Biggest Dons win: 4-1, 5 Mar 2011 (Crown Oil Arena)
Draws at Stadium MK: 2
Last draw: 2-2, 25 Nov 2014 (Stadium MK)
Dale wins: 3
Dale wins at Stadium MK: 1
Last Dale win: 1-0, 26 Jan 2008 (Stadium MK)
Biggest Dale win: 5-0, 27 Jan 2007 (Crown Oil Arena)
Dons win: 11/10
Rochdale win: 5/2
Kieran Agard: 9/2
Harvey Barnes: 13/2
Robbie Muirhead: 7/1
Ben Reeves: 9/1
No goalscorer: 10/1
Ian Henderson: 11/2
Stevie Davies: 13/2
Calvin Andrew: 7/1
Peter Vincenti: 15/2
*All odds correct at the time of writing
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