By Fan of the Year – Jon Harries
The League One season maybe over a week away but the Dons begin the 2021/22 season in the Carabao Cup away at Bournemouth. Ironically, we played the Cherries in the same competition 3 seasons ago when Paul Tisdale was at the wheel. We ended up losing 4-0 that night but it was a great day.
The Process has continued under the stewardship of Russell Martin this summer. New recruits Franco Ravizzoli (GK), Aiden Baldwin (CB), Josh Martin, Scott Twine, and Ethan Robson (MF) and strikers Max Watters and Mo Eisa have arrived at Stadium MK all eager to improve on our 13th place position at the end of last season. Many opposition fans and pundits are expecting a competitive MK Dons side, in theory a playoff push is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Bournemouth go into their second consecutive season in the Championship again expecting promotion. They just about got into the play offs last season, eventually losing over two legs to eventual winners Brentford. The club allowed Jonathan Woodgate’s contract to run until the end of the season before eventually being successful in their pursuit of Scott Parker from Fulham, a very passionate young manager, who got the Cottagers promoted to the Championship the season before last. Although Fulham headed by Parker only managed one season in the topflight, Fulham were given praise for their flair and determination. Now at the Vitality Stadium, Parker will have to use his previous experience to take the Cherries higher.
With the departure of Asmir Begovic to Everton, Mark Travers gets his chance to stake his claim for the number 1 spot. Chris Mepham had a very successful Euros with Wales and former Dons loanee Adam Smith is an integral part of the squad. Captain Steve Cook provides experience in the side. Ben Pearson is the midfield enforcer alongside Lewis Cook who provides the drive. The wingers of David Brooks, former West Ham graduate Junior Stanislas and Arnaud Danjuma are very direct, skilful, and pacy, and are likely to cause any team issues. Up top Dominic Solanke and Sam Surridge are very good strikers for the level.
The man in focus for this tie is a youth academy product who has taken his opportunity with both hands in pre-season. Jaiden Anthony has been given the opportunity to shine in the absence of Brooks and Danjuma from the pre-season squad. A goal and an assist over in Spain will do his chances no harm and he’ll be hoping to breakthrough regularly into the first team.
Harvie – Baldwin – Darling – Lewington – Martin
O’Riley – Twine – Robson
This is possibly going to be the closest to the Bolton starting line-up that we are likely to see. Fisher may be back, although more likely it’ll be the Bolton season opener. It’s important both Harvie and Martin maintain concentration at WB. Kasumu v Pearson will be a feisty encounter and its vital Mo Eisa is not isolated. There’s a case for Jay Bird to start given his strong pre-season but it’s nice to have problems like that. I predict a narrow win either way although an early exit from the competition might not be the worst thing. Fixtures come thick and fast in League 1 and I’m certain the focus will be mainly on that.