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Accrington Stanley vs MK Dons: 2019 League One Match Preview

Accrington Stanley vs MK Dons

The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 31 August 2019, between Accrington Stanley F.C. and MK Dons F.C. will take place at WHAM Stadium in Accrington, England. It has been a struggle to start the season for Accrington, as they are 1 of just 5 League One clubs currently still in search of their first victory. With just 1 point, and a -5 goal difference, Accy is currently just below the cut line in 21st place. For MK Dons, things have been a bit more up and down, having won 2 and lost 2 thus far. However, a 4-0 thrashing by Peterborough United F.C. last Saturday was particular damaging, as their now -3 goal differential has them on the wrong side of tiebreakers, and 15th in the table. It appears the defense is the name of the game for MK Dons, as they have allowed just 1 goal in their 2 victories, compared with 7 conceded in their 2 losses.

MK Dons were one of 4 clubs promoted up from EFL League Two last season, and if early season form is an indicator, they are likely to stay up at the end of the year (especially now that there are only 3 relegations spots left due to the tragic demise of Bury F.C.). They appear to have some squad depth, as they have 5 goals this season from 5 different players. None of those has been scored by Kieran Agard, who last season lead them in scoring with 20 goals. He has started all 4 games for them up front this season, and added an assist, but has yet to put the onion in the bag, or even put a shot on target. His last season's running mate up front, Chucks Aneke, departed to Charlton Athletic F.C. in the EFL Championship, leaving newcomer Jordan Bowery as the other starter up front for Milton Keynes. So far the returns have been good, Bowery has a goal and assist through 4 matches, and leads the club with 4 shots on target. Bowery has scored 20 total goals over the past two seasons while playing in League Two with Crewe Alexandra F.C., so it will be interesting to see how he fairs stepping back up a tier.

For Accrington, scoring, or lack thereof has been the story this season so far. While 8 goals allowed though 4 matches is a higher number than you want to see, it is the just 3 goals scored that is truly concerning. Things will be even more difficult this week, as they will be without their most established scoring threat, veteran midfielder Sean McConville, who was questionably sent off last week following an odd incident involving Ched Evans in last week's match against Fleetwood Town F.C.. The questionable part being that Evans was not also sent off. However, after the send off, down a man, Accrington mounted their best attack of the match in the final 15 minutes against Fleetwood. A good bit of that can be attributed to the play of young Joe Pritchard, who was electric after subbing on late last Saturday. Accrington manager John Coleman has tended to play conservative with his midfield this season, and has been reluctant to play the untested Pritchard. With McConville unavailable, and as impressive as Pritchard was last week, it seems almost a certainty that we will see him back in the starting line-up for the first time since opening week.

Accrington Stanley vs MK Dons Vital Information

Accrington Stanley Logo

By Source, Fair use, Wikipedia

This match can be will be the first that can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow or can be purchased from the MK Dons website) in the United States, and on iFollow in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.

Referee appointments have Ross Joyce as the referee, with assistants Matthew Jones and Stephen Wade, and the fourth official Gareth Mellor. On the discipline report, Accrington will be without midfielder Sean McConville, serving a one games suspension for his direct red card in last week's match.

This will be the 5th meeting all time between MK Dons and Accrington Stanley F.C. In the previous 4 meetings, MK Dons have won 4, Accrington have won 0, and there has been 0 draws. It was an MK Dons win in the most recent of those, 1-0 at the WHAM Stadium, but it should be noted that was all the way back on 24 March 2008. All four previous meetings between these teams came between 2006 and 2008. as EFL League Two opponents.

Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

MK Dons logo

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If things weren't difficult in for Accy in the scoring department with McConville suspended, they also still have Courtney Baker-Richardson out with a significant hamstring injury. To top it all off, Offrande Zanzala was nicked up in the last match, and will be unavailable on Saturday as well. This leaves the tandem of Colby Bishop and Dion Charles up front, they are a pair of promising youngsters, and have combined to score all 3 of Accy's goals thus far. However, both are inexperienced at this tier, and especially if Pritchard does start in the number 10 role, then there is going to be a tremendous amount of inexperience for Accrington on the front side of things.

In contract to Accrington, MK Dons are the definition of experienced up front. In addition to Agard and Bowery, they also have Rhys Healey off the bench as an impact player. Healy has already scored this year, in spite of totaling just 79 minutes through 3 appearances. Last season, he was also effective in limited playing time for the Dons, scoring 8 times in just 1345 minutes of playing time, which works out to .54 goals per 90 minutes played. Healy is the youngest of the 3, but all have played extensively at different tiers throughout the Football League, in fact, all 3 players have made at least 1 career Premier League appearance. One place they do seem to have a bit of a question mark at is on kicks from the spot. Last season, Agard made just 4 out of 7 attempts, and it doesn't not appear that he has been entrusted with the duties this year. This first PK attempt of the season was given to Conor McGrandle, a guy who scored 1 goal in 22 starts for them last season, and he failed to convert. Later in that same match against Wycombe Wanderers F.C., defender Jordan Houghton took the spot kick, and converted it. Houghton didn't attempt any penalties last season, and scored just twice in 39 starts last season, so it will be interesting to see who takes their next PK.

Right now the oddsmakers don't seem to have a real clear direction on how they think this one will go, with the home side just slightly favored. Currently, MK Dons are going off the board with 17/10 odds. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on MK Dons to win would pay back 27, your original 10 plus your winnings of 17). If you are feeling Accy, the payout is just slightly less at 7/5. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Accy would to win would pay back 24, your original 10 plus 14 in winnings). If it's a draw you fancy, that is currently going off at 12/5, or a 34 quid payout in our 10 quid example. If you have no interest in gambling then just go ahead and skip this paragraph. However, I would say that even if you aren't a gambler, it is worth taking into consideration that the folks who make the lines make a living off of getting them right. Anytime you see something that makes you look twice, such as a team struggling as bad as Accy has still being favored, then it's almost as if the house is asking you to bet on Milton Keynes. Following that logic, if the numbers seem to suggest that the house prefers for you to bet on Milton Keynes, then it means the house's money is on Accrington.

Last season, in addition to finishing with 71 goals, 3rd most in League Two, the MK Dons were also 1 of only 5 teams at that tier to allow fewer than 50 goals last season. This season, things have been a bit shakier on that end of things with 8 goals allowed in their first 4 games. Ultimately, things on this end will depend on the play of goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, now entering his 3rd year as the full time starter. In 2017-18, the MK Dons played in League One, with Nicholls conceded 59 goals in 41 games, which gave him a mediocre average, of 1.44 allowed per 90 minutes. It should however, be noted that a lot of that can be attributed to poor defense, as he faced a whopping 224 shots on target, turning away an impressive 73% of them. Last season, in League Two, he was outstanding, allowing just 42 goals in 40 games, and 1.05 per 90 (unfortunately numbers for shots and save percentage are not available). This season, back in League One, it looks like that defense in front of him is going to struggle once again. He has already been pepper with 23 shots on target through just 4 games. So far he has turned away 15 of those. If early returns are anything to consider, by the end of this season Nicholls may end up feeling as if he lives inside a pinball machine.

For two cities that are separated by just 136 miles as the crow flies, or about 3 hours by train, it is hard to imagine two places much different than Accrington and Milton Keynes. Accrington of course being a 19th century industrial powerhouse, with Milton Keynes only coming into existence as a city around the time the old Accrington Stanley F.C. was finishing up its 75 years run in the Football League. Accrington, is on a tiny sliver of land to the northwest of Manchester, that occupies less than 3 square miles with a population of just over 30,000. Milton Keynes, on the other hand, is a sprawling by English standards, 34 square mile area to the northwest of London, with a population expected to exceed 300,000 by 2025.

Accrington Stanley vs MK Dons Prediction

After having watched every Accrington game so far this season, it is really hard for me to thinking they should be favored to win against anyone. Much less a club that already has 2 wins to their credit. A deeper look though shows that MK Dons have played just once on the road so far this season, and that was a 3-2 loss to Wycombe. Furthermore, 4-0 doesn't even tell the story of how badly Peterborough abused their defense last week, which was to the tune of 10 on target shots. That one was at Milton Keynes no less. Accrington has struggled to score no doubt, but the MK Dons porous defense could be just the remedy that the doctor ordered. At the end of the day, it comes down to two things for me. First, is that the odds makers must think Accrington is better than they have shown so far to have the line where it is at. The other is, this is really a must win game for Accrington, and I know that John Coleman is in the locker room telling his guys that this is their last chance for August, and how important it is not to go winless through the entire first month of the season. I think Accy mans up and gets that win tomorrow.

Prediction: Accrington Stanley - 2      MK Dons - 1

About Phil Kennedy

Member of @acrosspitch football/soccer podcast, Accrington Stanley, Phoenix Rising, Arsenal, #OnStanleyOn #UpRising #WeAreTheArsenal @OASSCNA #dontworrybeaccy

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