By Jon Harries & Colin Butler
There would normally be a bit of a buzz around an FA Cup fixture especially being on the road against a Premiership team, but at the time of writing it all feels a bit low key in the build up to our clash with Burnley at the famous Turf Moor ground. All the ingredients are there all bar one, Premiership Ground …check, possible giant killing …. check, live on TV…check…Premiership ref assisted by VAR…. check…. penalties if needed…. check, but with fans unable to attend thanks to Covid it has taken a bit of a shine off proceedings, but if we can get a result and be in the hat for the next round, I’m sure we can forget all that.
We have played Burnley as MKD on just 4 occasions but lost every time, for the record those results are listed below, with our scorers.
2015/16 – MK Dons 0 Burnley 5 (Championship)
2015/16 – Burnley 2 MK Dons 1 (Championship) – C Baker
2011/12 – Burnley 2 MK Dons 1 (League Cup) – Powell
2009/10 – MK Dons 1 Burnley 2 (FA Cup) – Morgan
We also played Burnley twice in the season Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes, again for the record they are below with our scorers listed.
2003/04 – Wimbledon 2 Burnley 2 (League 1) – Holdsworth & Agyemang
2003/04 – Burnley 2 Wimbledon 0 (League 1)
A number of our former players have pulled on the claret jersey for Burnley including Patrick Bamford, Chris Long, Drissa Diallo, Paul Rachubka, Nathan Abbey, Dean Bowditch, Luke Chadwick, Mark Randall, Kevin Long and former Strikers Coach Ian Wright also played for Burnley.
Recent form shows 2 wins for Burnley in their last 4 games, one against Sheff Utd 1-0 and the other versus Wolves 2-1, both victories coming at home. The other two games were a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, and the other a 1-0 defeat against Leeds at Elland Road. But their best result this season was possibly their 1-0 victory at Arsenal in mid-December, their scheduled fixture with Fulham last Sunday was called off with positive Covid results in the London club’s camp.
Their league record for this season gives us some small hope with a record of PLAYED 15, WON 4, DRAWN 4, LOST 7, GF 9 & GA 20, and that goals for stat is the one that could be the key, It looks on this evidence that it will be a low scoring game.
In Sean Dyche they have a more than competent manger who has proved he can more than hold his own in the tough world of Premiership football, and on a limited budget, a place he has taken them on two separate occasions. He has been in charge at Turf Moor now since 2012 and before that Watford for one season and holds a record of PLAYED 414, WON 154, DRAWN 116, LOST 144, giving him a WIN RATIO of 37%.
So then, 11 days without any game due to the Covid 19 outbreak in the Rochdale camp could be a blessing. On the one hand, after a hectic Christmas schedule the rest will do the whole squad good, but conversely momentum after two massive wins in a week could be lost. The same could also be said for Burnley, and with them buoyed by having positive news of a probable takeover.
In our last game the Dons travelled to the County Ground looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. After four minutes Cameron Jerome eventually forced the ball over the line after confusion in the Swindon defence. One then became two when Gladwin switched the ball to Fraser who cushioned the ball into the path of Daniel Harvie who chipped the ball beautifully over the advancing keeper from a tight angle. Swindon replied with a rocket from Jack Payne but that was as good as it got for the Robins, as the Dons gave an Instant response when Gladwin again assisted Jerome who calmly finished one on one. The gloss on the performance was finished by Regan Poole who scored with a stooping header late on, but soon after was involved in a reckless tackle by Hunt which resulted in Swindon going down to ten men and Poole having to limp off and further our injury concerns. Objective complete and up to 14th in the table. With no game Saturday results largely went in the Dons favour and they currently occupy 16th, a positive week, and it should be noted when struggling to field a full compliment of players on the subs bench.
Burnley meanwhile have started to pick up after a slow start to the season and I think that Sean Dyche doesn’t get the credit he deserves as he always finds a way to survive, his teams are robust, physical, and extremely dangerous from set pieces. Underestimate their footballing ability at your peril as there are some very technically gifted footballers in the squad.
In Tom Pope and Bailey Peacock-Farrell they have two International goalkeepers for England and Northern Ireland, respectively. Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are two very physical and underrated centre backs. Matt Lowton, Eric Pieters, Charlie Taylor, and Phil Bardsley have plenty of experience in the EFL and form part of a rigid 4-4-2 system. In midfield Ashley Westwood controls the tempo for the Clarets and Dale Stephens, signed from Brighton is the enforcer. Dwight McNeil is an England U21 who played at Stadium MK in an International around 18 months ago, and Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are two very physically imposing strikers with Matej Vydra the pace option normally off the bench, but I would imagine Dyche will keep us guessing with his selections and the possibility he will field a slightly different line up from his normal league set up.
The player in focus is Josh Brownhill, the former Bristol City midfielder has taken a while to settle in after his summer move, but the 25-year-old is now getting a good run in the side. He is an adaptable player who can play as a defensive or central midfielder and he is what is known as an all-rounder. The Dons will have to be diligent of the movement of the young midfielder who on his day can be dangerous with and without the ball.
Sorinola – Williams – Keogh – Lewington – Harvie
Kasumu – Sorenson – Fraser
Walker – Jerome
It’s difficult to predict our line-up given the injuries prior to the Swindon game, the break between games and a pending game on Tuesday in the Papa John’s Trophy, but it’s a team still with a strong spine and no doubt will compete given the 44-place difference in the football pyramid.
I’m going for a narrow MK win after Extra Time. It will be a case of which style is more dominant and how focused Burnley will be with a game against Manchester United the following Tuesday. The longer its goalless the better……. famous last words.
I’d just like to end this piece by wishing MKDSA Vice Chairman & Treasurer Aiden Gray a safe recovery from his Covid 19 illness.
Hopefully, a good result on Saturday will aid his recovery.