by Daisy Cutter and Kieran Mather
In our new weekly series the Cutter concentrates its attention on one of the most intriguing fixtures this weekend.
This time out its newly promoted Swindon Town v MK Dons.
The back story
This week, fixture focus takes us to Wiltshire at the County Ground home of Swindon Town FC where the Robins host Karl Robinson’s MK Dons. Neither has tasted defeat yet in the league and neither will want to give that up when these two meet on Saturday. The previous meeting between the two saw MK Dons return to Buckinghamshire with all 3 points after a 0-1 win.
This time around it’s a different Swindon they are playing. Under Di Canio Swindon have won 36 out of 57 and are closing in on 100 goals. Their promotion from League Two looked a formality at one stage – the Robins were flying – but what must have pleased Di Canio particularly was how they responded to an inevitable rough patch and crossed the line in April. Additionally they almost bagged the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. There is a real buzz around the club as Paolo’s men gather momentum in their new League 1 surroundings – last term saw them set club records as they went on a 15 match unbeaten run and 10 consecutive wins. It’s an exciting time for a club very much on the up whose sights are on the Championship.
MK Dons could be the ideal opponents this weekend. With 3 suspended players and 2 missing through injury the Dons aren’t at full strength. However they too have made a strong start to the season. A 1-1 with play off hopefuls Bournemouth despite having 10 men for 70 minutes was an excellent result and their opener with Oldham saw them win 2-0 through goals by Potter and Powell.
Both teams play decent football and emphasise on attack. On paper MK Dons are the stronger side however they can’t line up in a familiar way due to their disciplinary record and injuries. Swindon will be the more optimistic of the two but this is the first real challenge League 1 has thrown at them.
How will they respond? And from a neutrals point of view, how will Paolo?
Travelling Dons’ fans will make the 65 mile journey knowing they’re visiting a traditional ground (built in 1896) where they can expect friendly banter in the Cricket Bar beforehand and a decent atmosphere once the game gets underway. That’s assuming they can find it however. The County Ground is situated close to the famous ‘Magic Roundabout’, a series of five roundabouts that make little sense to the uninitiated.
We asked Swindon fan Rosie MacGillivray for her views on a potentially cracking fixture.
Is it too early to call this a six-pointer promotion clash?
Probably, yes. That said, our form against our promotion rivals last season is what ultimately, set us apart. Another three points, whoever the opposition, is vital to keep the momentum going.
Have you been encouraged by your good start to the season or was it expected?
Encouraged, although this weekend’s game will be where we really find out how good we are. Our performance versus Hartlepool didn’t meet expectations, but on another day, we could have had all three points. Likewise, we could have had none. However, there was no contest against Crawley – it even pleased Di Canio.
Who will be your danger man this Saturday?
I’m split between Andy Williams and Matt Ritchie. New signing Williams has yet to score, but in each of the three games thus far, he has been a constant threat with his turn of pace and willingness to chase every lost cause. Winger Ritchie had a stinker versus Hartlepool, but was man of the match against Crawley, with a goal to boot.
Anyone from the opposition you fear?
Charlie McDonald stands out, although Luke Chadwick is another one to keep an eye on.
How tempting is it at times to sod the football off and just watch Di Canio in the dug-out?
He’s an animated character, and don’t the substitutes know it. He can be summed up perfectly with his sprint across Sixfields’ pitch after a last minute winner last season.
What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
Undefeated in a year at home, with just the eight league goals conceded in that time. I expect us to keep that up with a 2-0 win.
Cutter prediction – For the second week running we’re in agreement with our fan. A 2-0 home win but with plenty of chances spurned in an open entertaining game.