Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Big Match Preview - Southampton vs. MK Dons

Southampton vs. Milton Keynes Dons
Saturday April 2, 15:00, St Mary's

There's a crunch game in the race for promotion from League One at the weekend as Milton Keynes Dons make the trip to Hampshire to take on top six rivals Southampton.

The two sides currently sit level on 65 points in 4th and 5th respectively, although the South Coast team boast a vastly superior goal difference as well as having three games in hand on their opponents.

Indeed, the Saints have played fewer matches than all of their promotion rivals, and will hope they can take advantage in the closing weeks as they seek to gain automatic promotion back to the Championship.

Last term they only missed out on a place in the play offs because of a ten point deduction, but this season they will hope to avoid the end of season lottery for an altogether more positive reason.

Tipped for promotion in pre season, Southampton endured a slow start and were rocked by the early sacking of Alan Pardew. However, under the stewardship of his replacement, Nigel Adkins, they are beginning to show their potential.

They've suffered just one defeat in their last seven games, and have an imperious record on home soil under Adkins - winning 11 of his 15 league games at St Mary's and suffering just one defeat.

With just ten goals conceded at home all term, too, Saints have the best defensive record on their own patch in the third tier.

In the guise of 17-goal striker Rickie Lambert, Southampton also have one of the most lethal strikers in the division, and he is ably supported by Lee Barnard, who has 12 goals to his name too.

Nigel Adkins and Southampton are aiming for automatic promotion this term

Their opponents from Buckinghamshire come into the game in fine form themselves though, having only been beaten once in their last 14 league matches.

It's a run which has propelled the Dons firmly into the promotion mix - itself an achievement considering they cut their budget after last season's disappointing mid table campaign.

That saw Paul Ince resign from his position and be replaced by rookie Karl Robinson. The youngest manager in the Football League has risen to the occasion in spectacular fashion though.

Their challenge has
largely been built on not drawing matches, with just eight in their 39 matches. Their away record is, naturally, erratic therefore, including seven wins and nine defeats.

However, Saints will need to be wary against a side that have suffered just one away defeat in 2011 and recently registered impressive wins against fellow promotion contenders Peterborough and runaway leaders Brighton.

Top scorer for Milton Keynes this term is homegrown talent Sam Baldock, with 11, and midfielder Peter Leven with eight goals is another key man for the Dons.

This could be a very entertaining spectacle between two sides who are in top form, like to play good football, and have everything to play for with the season reaching its climax.

It will be tight, but I'll go for home advantage to help Saints to just edge it on the day against a Dons side who have been League One's surprise success story of the season.

Nobes' Prediction: Southampton 1 Milton Keynes Dons 0

No comments:

Post a Comment