Milton Keynes Dons (a) Preview
After a weekend off due to our cup postponement at Gloucester City, we travel to Milton Keynes tomorrow evening to take on the pantomime villains of the Football League, MK Dons.
Sunday should have seen us face Gloucester City in the FA Cup First Round but due to adverse weather conditions on Sunday morning we were given a weekend of f and extra time to prepare for tomorrow`s trip to the Stadium:MK. We make our fifth trip to the Buckinghamshire city tomorrow and currently have two wins and two defeats from our previous four trips to Milton Keynes.
Formed in 2004 following the much publicised move by Wimbledon to Milton Keynes, the Dons have become the panto villains for many fans of clubs across the land. MK Dons are disliked for uprooting Wimbledon away from their traditional home and planting them in Buckinghamshire, which has led to many labelling them "Franchise FC". The way I see it is MK Dons have now provided two teams to the Football League, rather than none which looked on the cards if the old Wimbledon would have been left. I`m almost certain the old Wimbledon would have ceased to exist, however, we now have two successful, well run clubs in MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon but also a story of AFC Wimbledon`s meteoric rise through the football pyramid that keeps your faith in football at a time when I really question the game after recent stories of racism, assault and diving.
We travel to the impressive Stadium:MK knowing that the Dons have lost just once in front of their fans this season, a 2-0 defeat by Crawley Town last month. However, something more uplifting for us Orient fans is the Dons current form. The Buckinghamshire side have won just one from their last seven games, a 3-0 victory at Scunthorpe United and come into tomorrow`s League One game on the back of a perplexing 0-0 draw at non-league Cambridge City on Friday evening.
The Dons are a club I`ve grown to admire, since their promotion back to the third tier, both on and off the pitch. On the pitch, when watching MK Dons play Orient I have been treated to a classy and entertaining style of attacking football from the talented coaching of Karl Robinson and those before him trusted with the managerial role. Off the pitch, I sense that MK are really trying to put down roots in their local community whilst trying to remain an affordable club to watch (I notice that two adult tickets for tomorrow will cost £25 for the pair) and in this current climate, this is a commendable act by the club.
The home side`s team news for tomorrow is that Karl Robinson will have to await the results of fitness tests to Daniel Powell and Luke Chadwick, the ugliest man in football. Charlie McDonald and Dean Bowditch, once linked to a move to Orient, have recovered from illness and Angelo Balanta is eligible to face us after missing Friday`s draw with Cambridge City.
Scouser Robinson has declared that Orient will be a tough test for his side, telling local BBC reporters that we have "gifted players" and that going to Swindon away and winning "wasn`t an easy thing to do". Luckily for Robinson, I can`t see Russell Slade setting up the same way as at Swindon but turning up and parking the bus in the hope that MK Dons fail to break down the stationary "bus" of a midfield five and the Ben Chorley and Nathan Clarke centre back partnership.
For Slade, the weekend off has come as somewhat of a blessing considering we had a number of players facing Coventry City last weekend struggling with knocks. The postponement allowed those players to recuperate ahead of an extremely busy period that sees us face five games in the space of thirteen days.
As I`ve already alluded to, I can see this being a classic Orient away day of the past 18 months and we will set up in the negative and mind numbingly boring 4-5-1 formation hoping for a draw and offering no Plan B when we go a goal behind.
Kevin Lisbie and Scott Cuthbert have recently returned to full training and returning to action in the coming games, I`m sure. Many have put down our lack of goals down to Lisbie`s injury but that isn`t the case, we don`t have many players who look like scoring in a line-up that is set to fail under the incompetent Slade. Cuthbert`s return to fitness is interesting as I`ve been impressed by the partnership of Chorley and Clarke in the middle of our back four. Cuthbert is a classy defender and Slade will not drop his captain in Clarke so it seems that it`s a two way battle between ex-Dons man Chorley and Scottish Cuthbert for the other centre back berth.
We have been quite lucky (depending on how you look at it) with our FA Cup draw(s). If we get past Gloucester we face 'lesser` opposition again in the second round in Blue Square Premier side Alfreton Town, which should see us with a fairly straight forward route to third round and an opportunity for a payday against one of the big sides in the English game. The cup draw could also play a massive part in the future of Russell Slade, if the hat wearing ex-school teacher masterminds us to a money spinner at Old Trafford then pressure from the fans will deteriorate, whilst a defeat to either Gloucester of Alfreton could seal his fate and see him at the back of the dole queue.
Up The O`s.