MK Dons v Barnsley: Match Preview
Barnsley face a tricky trip to Milton Keynes this weekend looking to improve on their disappointing recent form.
Three defeats in their last five League One outings leaves the Reds sitting just three points above the relegation zone and with just a trio of victories on the road all season it will be a tough task at stadium mk for Danny Wilson’s side.
Last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Doncaster was the Club’s fourth in a row away from Oakwell following defeats at Chesterfield, Walsall and Preston; and having scored just twice during that spell, a drastic improvement will be needed against the promotion-chasing Dons.
Karl Robinson’s side go into the game on the back of a sticky patch of their own however, but despite failing to win in three games in all competitions earlier this month, the Dons did end that run with a narrow 1-0 home success against Sheffield United last Saturday.
That win moved the Buckinghamshire side into third place and with nine victories in their last 15 league outings they are very much in the hunt for automatic promotion this season.
Big wins against Crewe, Colchester and Oldham – which they won 6-1, 6-0 and 7-0 respectively – has seen the Dons build up a formidable home record in which they have lost only twice and scored 34 times in 13 games; making stadium mk a place to be feared for sides up and down the division.
The Reds will attempt to extend their unbeaten record at stadium mk when the two sides meet for just the eighth time this weekend.
Two draws and a 3-1 FA Cup success in Milton Keynes back in February 2013 means Barnsley are yet to taste defeat on away turf in this fixture but with two wins a piece they will certainly be taking nothing for granted.
One of those Dons victories came earlier this season when they ran out 5-3 winners at Oakwell after racing into a 5-0 lead, with the other landing in the 2006-07 League Cup.
In the league, three of the five clashes between the Clubs have ended as stalemates, with the only other victory – aside from the Dons’ success at Oakwell four months ago – coming back in September 2005 when strikes from Marc Richards and Bobby Hassell earned the Reds a first ever triumph against the Dons.
The Reds will be without full-back Mason Holgate for the tough trip to Milton Keynes as he begins a three-match ban at stadium mk.
The teenager was sent off for a foul on Doncaster’s Nathan Tyson last Saturday despite appearing to slip and could be replaced by George Williams who is on standby to make his full Barnsley debut.
Another option in defence for boss Danny Wilson will depend on the fitness of on-loan Crystal Palace man Peter Ramage who was missing at the Keepmoat through injury.
For the hosts, new loan signing Jonson Clarke-Harris will be eager to make his first Dons start after joining from Rotherham last week.
The former Oldham man was recruited in a bid to replace top scorer Benik Afobe who returned to parent Club Arsenal before making a permanent switch to Wolves.
One man who will definitely be involved on Saturday is Barnsley born and ex-Reds trainee Antony Kay, who is set to make his 104thMK Dons appearance this weekend.
Kay made over 150 starts in a Barnsley shirt between 2000 and 2007, as he netted the decisive spot-kick in the Reds’ promotion winning campaign of 2006 as well as being named as vice-captain towards the end of his Oakwell career.
Man in the Middle
Lancashire-based official Christopher Kavanagh will take charge of his second Barnsley game of the campaign when they travel to Milton Keynes on Saturday afternoon. The referee oversaw the Reds disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Swindon in September and despite not showing any cards on that occasion it was an afternoon to forget for Danny Wilson’s side in Kavanagh’s company.
That League One clash was just one of 17 games refereed by the young official this season, with the most noteworthy of them coming on Boxing Day as he dismissed two Coventry players within two minutes of each other. Midfielder’s Adam Barton and James Maddison were both given their marching orders late on for two bookable offences as the Sky Blues suffered a 2-0 defeat at Doncaster. Those two dismissals were the only two brandished by Kavanagh this season however as he prepares to take charge at stadium mk for the first time on Saturday afternoon.
Their Star Man
Regularly linked with a move to the Premier League and seen by many as a long-term successor to Steven Gerrard, interest in MK Dons star Dele Alli will intensify this summer; leaving the Dons with a huge battle on their hands to keep their prize asset. For now however, Alli is an MK Dons player and following more scintillating performances this season the 18-year-old leads the Club’s goal scoring charts with 11.
The Barnsley faithful witnessed first-hand what the powerful midfielder can do earlier this season, as the England youth international assisted the second and scored the third as Karl Robinson’s side beat the Reds 5-3 at Oakwell. Three of his 11 strikes came in September’s 6-1 thrashing of Crewe as Alli netted his second MK Dons hat-trick with the first coming last season at Notts County.
Milton Keynes born Alli netted seven times in his first full senior campaign last time out, but he made his debut at the age of just 16 in November 2012 in an FA Cup draw at Cambridge. Two weeks later and he had his first goal however; scoring in the replay against Cambridge on his home debut. Finding the back of the net at stadium mk is second nature to the midfield maestro now though, with seven goals on home soil this season including strikes in big wins against Colchester and Oldham in November and December.
In November 2006 Barnsley became the seventh Club of striker Leon Knight’s short career. Despite only being 24 the much travelled forward arrived at Oakwell on loan from Swansea, as he made the jump from League One to the Championship.
Although the diminutive front man had experienced second tier football during his time at Brighton – where he scored 32 goals in over 100 appearances – Knight struggled to adapt to life with the Reds and following his debut in a 1-0 home success against Ipswich the ex-Chelsea trainee failed to score in nine appearances at Oakwell.
That failure to find the back of the net came as a surprise to many after hitting 19 goals in 35 games for parent Club Swansea before his temporary move to South Yorkshire. Despite not scoring Knight played his part as the Reds picked up wins against Southend and Burnley as well as a 2-2 draw at Elland Road.
Following his ninth outing for the Club in a 2-0 defeat at Wolves, the striker returned to South Wales in January 2007 before a permanent transfer to Saturday’s opponents the MK Dons. The former Huddersfield man spent a year in League Two with the Dons; notching just once in the second half of the 2006-07 campaign, but that poor form was soon rectified with three goals in four appearances at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.
Strikes in back-to-back 3-3 draws against both Ipswich and Macclesfield, as well as in a 3-0 home success against Shrewsbury gave the Dons faithful a glimpse of what he could do but despite bagging a brace against Lincoln, Knight was on the move again in January 2008 as he signed for fellow League Two side Wycombe Wanderers before spells with Rushden & Diamonds, Thrasivoulos Fylis of Greece, Hamilton Academicals, Queen of the South, Coleraine and Glentoran.
Going to the match?
MK Dons play at stadium mk, its address is as follows:
Due to stadiummk only being built in 2007 your satellite navigation system may not recognise their postcode. It may help to enter MK1 1QB which is the nearby Asda store.
How to get there
South Bound M1: Exit the motorway at Junction 14 and turn right at the roundabout at the top of the exit slip road towards Milton Keynes.
North Bound M1: Exit the motorway at Junction 14 and take the left-hand filter lane towards Milton Keynes.
Continue straight over the roundabout (Northfield) on H6 Childs Way. At the next roundabout (Fox Milne) turn left onto V11 Tongwell Street. Continue straight over next roundabout (Monkston) along the V11 Tongwell Street. At the next roundabout (Brinklow) turn right along the H8 Standing Way (A421). Continue on the H8 Standing Way (A421) following signs for Buckingham continuing over a number of roundabouts, on reaching the Bleak Hall roundabout turn left onto the V6 Grafton Street and follow signs for the stadium.
Vehicles traveling from other areas should follow the brown football signs which are located on all main approaches to the area.
The stadium can also be accessed easily from the northbound A5 running from Dunstable. Exit the road signposted Central Bletchley and take the first exit off Redmoor Roundabout. The stadium turning is on the left.
Away supporters should follow the brown signs for Football Coaches and enter the stadium site via the Saxon Street entrance (between KFC and McDonalds) which is the most convenient for Gate 3.
Those traveling to the match by car should follow the brown stadium signage. Limited parking is available at the stadium - car parking fees of £7 will be charged.
Alternatively, patrons should park considerately in the industrial areas surrounding the stadium and NOT in the parking areas of the nearby retail and trade outlets, or in areas signed as privately owned (such as Granby Trade Park) where there is a risk of clamping. Dedicated disabled parking is only available at the stadium site.
No football parking is permitted at the Asda store adjacent to the stadium site and a Parking Charge Notice of £60 will be issued for cars identified as parking for football or those exceeding the two-hour parking period. Football parking is also prohibited at the MK1 site.
Bletchley station is approximately a 30 minute walk from the stadium. The stadium is sign posted from the station.
Milton Keynes Central is a 45-60 minute walk.
Fenny Stratford is served by London Midland trains to/from Bletchley and all stations to/from Bedford. The station is approximately a 20 minute walk from the stadium. The stadium is sign posted from the station.
Arriva Service 1: Newport Pagnell (07 and 37 minutes past the hour), Milton Keynes Central Rail Station via the City Centre (35 and 05 minutes past the hour), Oldbrook and the Hospital to the stop on Grafton Street adjacent to the stadium entrance.
It then continues to Bletchley Bus Station. The return journey leaves the Granby, Grafton Street stop at 13 minutes and 43 minutes past the hour.
Hackney Carriages charge a fixed fee of £9 from Central Milton Keynes Station to the stadium. Licensed private hire companies vary, but will be less than this.
The four big licensed minicab companies in Milton Keynes are:
Ace Cars: 01908 555555
Eezy: 01908 218218
These are fully licensed and will show Milton Keynes minicab 'BLUE' plates to the rear of the vehicle. To use the services of a minicab a person MUST FIRST pre-book with the operator (company).