By Steve Manning

The Dons vs Cheltenham Town

Venue: Stadium MK (capacity: 30,500 for football)

Competition: Papa John’s Trophy – Group Stage, Matchday 1.

Head-to-Head: Dons: 6 wins, Drawn: 1, Cheltenham wins: 1

Goals: Dons – 21, Cheltenham – 11.

Previous Result – Dons beat Morecambe 4-0 away, and Cheltenham lost 2-1 against Oxford in League One.

Form Book (All competitions)

The Dons – PD 8 W 4 D 1 L 3 GF 7 GA7 – League One: 13th, League Cup: Through to the Third round.

Cheltenham – PD 7 W 1 D 1 L 5 GF 4 GA 15 – League One: 21st, League Cup: Lost in the First round.

Morecambe Review

Will Grigg was on fire in Dons 4-0 thumping of Morecambe, at the Mazuma Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Northern Irishman’s first half brace set Liam Manning’s side on their way, before his planned half-time substitution. Grigg’s first of the afternoon came after Conor Grant found space in the Shrimps half and put in a low cross into the host’s box. The striker managing to shake off his marker to turn the ball home for his first goal back in the colours of MK. Daniel Harvie, himself only just returning from an injury lay off, provided Grigg with his second of the afternoon. The Scot whipped in a fine cross which found the striker who diverted the ball nonchalantly past Morecambe’s Connor Ripley. The second half saw Dons start under a bit of pressure from Morecambe, which culminated in their on-loan midfielder Jensen Weir having an effort go just wide. Dons would make them pay for that miss as Irish attacking midfielder Conor Grant struck his side’s third of the afternoon. A fine goal from the summer signing finishing off a swift counterattack by the men from MK1. The Dons rounded off the scoring just five minutes later as the Shrimps gave the ball away on the edge of their own penalty box, and substitute Matt Dennis – on for Will Grigg – took advantage of the mistake as he fired Dons into a four-goal lead. Morecambe went looking for a consolation goal as Ryan Delaney, and Jensen Weir forced Jamie Cumming into some good stops, before Weir then headed an effort wide in stoppage time at the end of the game.

How could Dons line up?

The Papa John’s trophy presents an opportunity to rotate the team for Liam Manning tonight. How many are rested is again a good question with this being an opening fixture for the round robin group stage. I think we might see the formation stay as 3-4-3, as opposed to Manning’s preferred 4-2-3-1 which has failed miserably to work for the Dons this season.

Possible Dons XI: 3-4-3

Franco Ravizzoli

Daniel Oyegoke, Warren O’Hora (c), Zak Jules.

Henry Lawrence, Dawson Devoy, Ethan Robson, Daniel Harvie.

Darragh Burns, Will Grigg, Louie Barry

How could Cheltenham line up?

Wade Elliott favours a 3 at the back with wingbacks, last time out against Oxford he went with a 3-4-1-2 formation. The Robins have been abysmal so far this season, with their lowest point being a 7-0 thrashing against Exeter at Whaddon Road.

Possible Robins XI: 3-4-1-2

Luke Southwood.

Sean Long (c), Caleb Taylor, Lewis Freestone.

Tom Bradbury, Daniel Adshead, Liam Sercombe, Ben Williams.

Matty Blair.

Charlie Brown, Christian Norton.

One’s to watch.

Zak Jules – The Dons: Seemingly on his way out of the door just a few weeks ago, before his EFL Cup performances in the victories against Sutton United, and Watford saw him come back into Liam Manning’s thinking. The Scot has emerged as a real alternative to club legend Lewington, on the left side of the back three, and the improvement in his game – tackling, passing, marking, tracking back, and aerial ability will give Dons a reliable outlet in defence if he is as I expect chosen by Manning to face Cheltenham tonight. One to watch.

Ben Williams – Cheltenham: Left Wingback Williams is a very good ball playing defender, capped at Under 17, 19 and Under 21 age levels for Wales he signed on for the Robins this summer for an undisclosed fee from relegated Barnsley. Favoured by Town boss Elliott for his attacking flair, and defensive ability Williams is more than capable of funding a killer pass, or supplying a decent standard of crosses into the opposition penalty box if given the opportunity.

So far this season teams have managed to stifle the young Welshman, but that does not mean that Dons shouldn’t underestimate his threat. One to watch.

Score Prediction

The Dons 5 Cheltenham 0

Rotated team, or no rotated team, I’m going to predict a big result for Manning’s men tonight. The side have found their groove in-front of goal with 10 goals in five games for Manning’s young team.

Goal scorers? This time I am going with Darragh Burns, Will Grigg, Louie Barry, Ethan Robson, and Matt Dennis.

Match Odds: Supplied by Oddschecker

Dons win: 20/23 Draw: 23/10 Cheltenham win: 29/10

Dons to win 5-0: 90/1

*Odds subject to change, please bet responsibly.

Well, if you are going to tonight’s tie, I as always wish you safe travels to and from Stadium MK.

Enjoy the game, and COYD

Until Next Time, SM.

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