Saturday 6th February 2021
(16th) MK Dons v Sunderland (6th)
Sky Bet League One
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Sunderland DAB (not online)
Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!
Time for part two of our week in Milton Keynes, as we turn our attention away from cup glory, and return to the small matter of getting out of League One.
Clearly a resounding victory at Stadium MK in the Papa John’s Trophy quarter-final on Tuesday night should fill Lee Johnson’s squad with confidence, especially in combination with our general form away from home this season.
Despite now being over the halfway mark in the current campaign, Sunderland are yet to suffer defeat away from home this season with six victories and five draws so far.
There was also the boost that although we weren’t able to claim all three points at the Stadium of Light last week against Gillingham, we did climb into a play-off position for the first time since the beginning of November.
Hopefully Tuesday night can act as a springboard and help us cement our place in a play-off position and put us in line of sight of the top two.
After finishing five points adrift of the drop zone last time round, Russell Martin’s MK Dons side are currently at a crossroads in their season where they sit nine points from the play-offs, and eight points above the relegation zone in League One.
With the Papa John’s Trophy now off the agenda, it’s now a case that a good run could see the Buckinghamshire club be that side that sneaks into the play-offs on the last day, or alternatively a wobble could result in a desperate scrap to survive.
Their home form is very similar to ours, where inconsistency has plagued them resulting in five wins and three draws from twelve so far. After a decent festive season, 2021 has been a mixed bag, with alternating victories and losses in League One which spilled over into the cup on Tuesday.
No doubt Russell Martin will be looking to see his players focus on their 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light in November as an alternative to dwelling on Sunderland’s dominance in midweek.
League One Form Guide
Last five games...
Sunderland Team News
As more players return to fitness it becomes increasingly difficult to predict what Lee Johnson will go with next.
Callum McFadzean was brought of in midweek during the Papa John’s Trophy quarter-final win at Stadium MK which could mean a first start for on-loan Jake Vokins at left-back. Another new signing, Ross Stewart is also set to wait a bit longer for his Sunderland as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Bailey Wright is also a doubt as he continues his recovery from concussion he suffered at Portman Road, and Tom Flanagan is expected to continue his partnership with Jordan Willis.
The midweek dominance over MK Dons will surely have given the manager food for thought and he may look to a number of those players for a repeat performance.
Possible XI: Burge, Power, Willis, Flanagan, Vokins, O’Nien, Scowen, Jones, Gooch, O’Brien, Wyke
MK Dons Team News
We can expect a much changed side to the one we faced in midweek, Harry Darling, Ethan Laird and Charlie Brown are all available after being cup-tied midweek. Zak Jules who was signed on deadline day from Walsall is also now available for selection.
David Kasumu, Jay Bird, Kierna Agard and Jordan Houghton are all ruled out through long-term injuries but Andrew Surman could be back in contention.
Will Grigg will not feature due to the terms of the loan deal agreed between the two sides.
Possible XI: Fisher, O’Hora, Darling, Lewington, Laird, Harvie, Fraser, Gladwin, Sørensen, Jerome, Mason
Last Time We Met in League One at Stadium MK...
Saturday 18th January 2020
Sky Bet League One
MK Dons 0 - 1 Sunderland (Gooch 79’)
Sunderland: J.McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Lynch, O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire, Gooch, Wyke (Lafferty) Substitutes not used: Burge, C. McLaughlin, Flanagan, Leadbitter, Watmore, McNulty
MK Dons: Nicholls, Brittain, Lewington, Houghton, Williams, Walsh, Mason, McGrandles (Gladwin), Morris (Nombe), Kasumu (Thompson), Healey Substitutes not used: Moore, Moore-Taylor, Poole, Cargill
Played for Both
Alex Rae would be a rare breed in modern times in the fact the Scotsman was a classy playmaker who could also put his foot in. Signed as Sunderland’s first £1 million signing in the summer of 1996, Rae made 136 appearances on Wearside, scoring 15 goals before signing for Wolves in 2001.
Joined MK Dons in 2010 as first team coach under Paul Ince and ended up making three appearances to cover during an injury crisis at the club. Amazingly never collected a full cap for Scotland at full international level.
Tore Andre Flo
Part of a desperate throw of the dice by Peter Reid, when the Norwegian international signed from Glasgow Rangers on the same day as Marcus Stewart signed from Ipswich Town.
Left Sunderland after only a year having scored 6 goals in 33 appearances, and also made 13 appearances for MK Dons without scoring later in his career in 2008-09.
Head to Head... at Stadium MK
In all competitions...
Sunderland wins: 3
MK Dons wins: 0
Goals for Sunderland: 6
Goals for MK Dons: 0
Sunderland are once again favourites with the bookies to be victorious in Milton Keynes and are priced once again at 13/10, with the home side having their odds lengthened slightly from midweek to 11/5 which is the same price as the draw.
After his cameo as a substitute that saw him once again get on the scoresheet, Charlie Wyke is once again favourite to open the scoring for Sunderland at 4/1.
Aiden O’Brien is next at 6/1, followed by Lynden Gooch at 7/1. For a little extra value, both Aiden McGeady and Jordan Jones are on offer at 10/1 to open the scoring the Lads.
For a correct score, the bookmakers like the look of a low-scoring game and a 1-0 Sunderland win is 11/2, but if you’re that confident, a repeat of midweek’s 3-0 is a 20/1 shot.
I went for a 2-0 Sunderland win for the midweek Papa John’s Trophy tie - and in the off chance that was a lucky omen, I’m going to do it again.