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Roker Report Score Predictions: Will Sunderland reach the Papa John’s Trophy semi-final?

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Is this where this competition becomes interesting? With a semi-final place at stake we ask our panel how they think our EFL Trophy clash with MK Dons will pan out – let us know your prediction!

Only our leader Jack managed to salvage something from the debris left behind by Gillingham’s late equaliser on Saturday. A solitary point from calling Aiden McGeady’s opener (with the help of a deflection) was enough to see him extend his lead to three points at the top.

For the rest it is as they were, as it’s pin the tail on the donkey time in the Papa John’s Trophy with a semi-final place at stake at Stadium MK. Let’s find out what our panel go for in this round of predictions...


Philip Butler predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 0-1 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Lynden Gooch

Predicting Sunderland’s league games is hard enough at the moment, never mind the EFL Trophy in which we are likely to see close to 11 changes from Saturday’s side. These games tend to be pretty low on intensity, quality and goals.

For that reason I’m banking on Lynden Gooch, a player with a point to prove, to score and get himself back into the side for the upcoming league games.

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One
Will Lynden Gooch get an opportunity to get a full 90 minutes under his belt?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 1-2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Aiden McGeady

This is a bit of an unnecessary distraction for me, with our league form picking up a little and a lot of fixtures to get through. I honestly won’t care if we lose as it will ease the strain on the squad which is already taking it’s toll. The league and promotion has to be our main, and only focus.

All that said, with the new lads ready to show their worth, we should see something of them excluding anyone being cup tied, and with an outside chance of a Wembley final (albeit an empty one), I do hope the squad have too much for MK Dons.

In addition to that, playing well is key as we have the same opponents in the league this weekend, and the last thing we need is to lose confidence before we need the three point band wagon to resume on Saturday.

I think we will get a two-goal lead and potentially let in a late consolation, especially if Wright remains out for his concussion (I’d call a clean sheet if I knew he would be back), but it depends which Sunderland turns up, and what Dons team does too. They beat Fleetwood 3-1 in mid January, and AFC Wimbledon 2-0 last time out, and only lost 1-0 to Charlton a week ago, so on their day they can get goals and can defend too.

If Johnson rotates the squad and we lose but we start to understand more about how the team will click with the new signings then I’ll take that, but progress to the semis should be within our capability, and making winning a habit is definitely a good direction to seek.

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One
Is Aiden McGeady’s place under threat due to the new additions to the Sunderland squad in January?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Matthew Foster predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 1-2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Ross Stewart

Like Sunderland, I was minutes away on Saturday from a huge three points in the hunt to climb up the prediction table.

But alas, history repeated itself, as Gillingham found a stoppage time equaliser to take a deserved point away from the Stadium of Light the second year running.

Focus now shifts back to the Pizza Trophy tonight and we face the pizza topping equivalent of tuna; MK Dons.

Our 2-1 loss against them in November was the first defeat we’d suffered at their hands, and played a significant part in Phil Parkinson’s sacking two weeks later.

We go into the game with a few new faces in the mix, but we’ll have to wait to see Jake Vokins, as his involvement with Southampton U21s leaves him cup-tied.

But I’d like to see Johnson give the likes of Stewart and Jones a chance to impress, in what is a dress rehearsal for the more important clash at the weekend.

While I wouldn’t lose too much sleep being knocked out this poxy competition, I always want to see us win – particularly against these lot – so I’m going for win one of hopefully two this week with a debut goal for Stewart!

Sunderland Announce New Signing Ross Stewart
Can new signing Ross Stewart get off the mark on his debut?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jack Howe-Gingell predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 0-2 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Jordan Jones

Another match in the pizza inspired trophy, and hopefully an opportunity to see some our new acquisitions.

Sadly, I believe Jake Vokins will be cup tied after featuring for Southampton in an earlier game against Northampton, but hopefully we will see Jordan Jones and Ross Stewart for the first time.

MK Dons are towards the bottom end of the league table, but they still have threats in the form of veteran Cameron Jerome and playmaker Scott Fraser.

Sunderland should have too much for them, and we could do with a little lift after a challenging and ultimately disappointing draw last time out vs. Gillingham.

It’d be nice to see the new lads notch and start their Sunderland career in the best possible fashion. Equally, it will be intriguing to see what they will bring to the table and hopefully will provide a platform for them to support our league performances.

I fancy us to take the game to MK Dons and win well. I’ll go for Jones to open the scoring, and it’s nice to be excited about some fresh faces - ha’way the lads!

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Jordan Jones
Will Lee Johnson save Jordan Jones for the weekend or will he be thrown in straight away?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will Jones predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 1 - 1 Sunderland

(Sunderland to win on pens)

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Lynden Gooch

Off the back of what was a disappointing finish on Saturday, we move to what is a disappointment of a trophy. Two games in five days against the same team away (thank god) is something we can take and rotate with.

I hope we chop and change as much as possible, and with a few missing from the U23s yesterday, we can assume some will be playing tonight.

Presuming that we have a fully rotated side I think it is the perfect time to get minutes into legs before we kick on and get players embedded into the bigger stadiums like MK from the off, as we are struggling playing at home.

I hope we push and make it look easy, but with a lot of players that aren’t going to have played a lot together, I am going to predict a close and tired affair with nobody pushing hard with the game at the weekend in mind.

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke is favourite to open the scoring for Sunderland with the bookies, but will he be rested by Sunderland manager Lee Johnson?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless predicts...

Score Prediction: MK Dons 2-3 Sunderland

Sunderland’s first goalscorer: Lynden Gooch

Lee Johnson’s named strong sides so far in this competition, and given things aren’t clicking in the league just yet I expect the same approach tonight.

That said, I’d be surprised if Jones and Stewart aren’t in the team, and I expect Lynden Gooch to be given a full game to restore his match fitness.

It’s likely Bailey Wright will miss out again, and with Vokins and Sanderson cup tied we’ll likely see an unchanged back line – Younger, perhaps, the only player who may come into contention.

It’s a free hit for Johnson to get his team firing, and I think we’ll nick it in an open game. I’m going for a 3-2 win, which will set us up nicely for Saturday’s repeat fixture.

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One
Martin’s going for Gooch to be first on the scoresheet tonight.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images