England

Match Forecast: Northampton Town vs MK Dons

After picking up six points from their last two matches, Northampton will be hoping to make it three wins in a row against a struggling MK Dons on Saturday.

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Northampton have had an almost perfect January so far, with the only defeat coming on New Year’s Day at the hands of league leaders Wigan Athletic. Since that 1-0 loss, the Cobblers have won two in a row, starting with a 3-1 victory against Southend United. This came off the back of three straight losses. A week later, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men picked up a surprising three points when they defeated Bradford City 2-1 at Valley Parade.

This was Northampton’s first away win at Bradford since 2007. Last Saturday saw striker Chris Long score his seventh goal of the season, with John-Joe O’Toole being the other man on the scoresheet for the victors. Northampton now sit 21st in League 1, level on points with Oldham in 20th and just one point behind MK Dons in 19th.

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It has not just been a successful time for Northampton on the field, but off it too. Hasselbaink and his higher-ups have been able to acquire six players so far this month, including the high-rated Portuguese winger Hildeberto Pereira on loan from Legia Warszawa.

These new signings, Pereira and Shay Facey (from Man City) especially have been a crucial part of Northampton’s revival as of late, and Hasselbaink will be hoping to bring in some more fresh faces before the end of the window.

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As for MK Dons, a relegation battle is looking likely after three defeats in their last five league matches. Their only league win recently came against Peterborough, but despite this and a surprising FA Cup 3rd Round victory against Championship side QPR, MK will be disappointed with their recent form. Their last match saw them pick up a single point in a 0-0 draw with bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Since last Saturday, the Buckingham side has done some of their own transfer business. Arriving at the club is midfielder Marcus Tavernier on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season. This allows Robbie Neilson’s men to have a bit more pace on the flanks which is crucial in League 1.

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Talking of transfers, Northampton could be handing debuts to two players this weekend. The first player is their newest signing, left back Joe Bunney. The former striker signed for the Cobblers earlier in the week from relegation rivals Rochdale. It seemed as though the arrival of Bunney could have seen an exit for captain David Buchanan but the 31-year-old announced that he had agreed to a contract extension.

Bunney will be hoping to make his debut this Saturday, but there are a lot of competition for the left back position and the 24-year-old will have to fight to nail down his place in the team. The other player who could make their debut is Jack Bridge. The midfielder signed for Northampton on the 5th of January from Southend United but has failed to make the matchday squad as of yet due to a lack of fitness.

Hildeberto Pereira could make his first start for the Cobblers, after making two substitute appearances in the past two weeks. Other players who could return to the squad include former MK Dons player Daniel Powell, and Leon Barnett who has been injured in recent weeks.

Team news for MK Dons includes potential returns to the squad for Ike Ugbo and Osman Sow. The latter was suspended for last Saturday’s match but will be available this weekend, and Ugbo is hoping to start after returning from a brief recall to Chelsea which seen the striker miss the Wimbledon match.

Since MK Dons were founded, ‘MK1’ have had the better end of results with Northampton only winning two out of the eleven encounters between the two clubs. The other encounter between Northampton and Milton Keynes this season ended in a 0-0 draw at Stadium:MK.

Northampton may be seen as the slight favourites for this match based on form, but anything can happen between these two sides. Two standout matches in recent times include a 5-3 defeat for the Cobblers in January 2017 and a 3-2 win for Town in September 2016 which was broadcasted live on Sky Sports.

Featured Image Credit: Matt Churchill

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