Written by Connor Lawson
MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon. The two phoenix clubs formed as a result of the demise of Wimbledon Football Club. How each team came to be is a story I have no doubt everyone reading this article is familiar with. I don’t intend to educate you on the history of the two clubs, but to focus on the huge fixture on Saturday in Milton Keynes.
Whilst the game isn’t the first time the pair have locked horns, it will be the first time they have met in the league. In the first ever encounter between the teams, in December 2012, MK Dons came out on top. They also won the second fixture between the teams in the League Cup in August 2014, before AFC Wimbledon picked up their first ever win against the ‘franchise’ in October 2014.
Incidentally, all of the ties between these two have been at Stadium:MK, and Saturday’s game will follow suit. The level of tension between the fans in each of the three games seemed to decrease with each time they faced each other, but I have no doubts the amount of passion and tension which will be displayed by both sets of supporters on Saturday will match, if not beat the first ever encounter four years ago.
AFC Wimbledon are undefeated in their last four games and have only succumbed to one loss in their last fourteen, a rich vein of form which has catapulted them to seventh, just a goal behind the last play-off place and, most importantly for their fans, above MK Dons. They have only conceded nine goals on the road all season, and have collected seventeen points on the road this season.
credit Chalfont Don
Their top scorer, Dominic Poleon, will be available for the game on Saturday, whilst their next two top scorers, Lyle Taylor and Tom Elliott, will be assessed ahead of kick-off.
AFC Wimbledon will be buoyed after their fantastic comeback at Curzon Ashton in the FA Cup on Sunday, scoring four in ten minutes to come back from 3-0 down to win. They are also delighted with their away tie at Sutton, the side who they played their first ever game against.
Meanwhile, MK Dons have been undergoing a period of transition, with Scot Robbie Neilson recently being appointed manager. Saturday’s fixture will be his home debut and, whilst being tasked with getting a win in such a huge match, he also has to try and get MK Dons’ first home win of the season. His first game was in midweek in the EFL Trophy against Yeovil, which resulted in a 4-1 loss. However, for many MK Dons fans, they see Saturday’s tie as his first game of any significance.
Neilson also has to try and get the team out of a bad run of form, which has slightly picked up recently. Having beaten Coventry away a fortnight ago, and securing a decent draw with Charlton in the FA Cup, things seem to be moving along at a slow but sure rate.
MK Dons lack a real out-and-out goal scorer which could prove a problem for Neilson but many MK fans will be interested to see his team selection for the game, as many would like to see change from the ways of Karl Robinson.
It goes without saying that a win for the home side will make new boss Robbie Neilson an instant hero amongst the fans. It is a fantastic opportunity for Neilson to give his fans a game to remember. However, it is a huge opportunity for AFC Wimbledon to make history by beating their rivals.
I am certainly looking forward to the fantastic atmosphere on Saturday, and the sheer amounts of passion from each set of supporters. It is likely to be hugely nerve wracking for the supporters, but it is likely to be a fantastic spectacle for the neutral. Though, I am pretty sure most of the football world will be supporting AFC Wimbledon.
Normally I’d give a prediction for the game, but I simply can’t, you just can’t call it. Despite the two teams being at fairly opposite ends of the table, it’s a derby game so anything can happen.
If you are attending the game, a reminder that it kicks off at 1pm.
If nothing else, let’s hope for an entertaining game of football.
What are your predictions for this game? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Nick