Marcus Braddock looks ahead to our trip to stadiummk in the Sky Bet League One
This weekend, Shrewsbury Town play their second game of the season whilst our hosts will be starting the season with their first game of the season. If you didn't already know, Milton Keynes first game of the season was cancelled because of the seemingly never-ending, financial saga at Bury. It's sad that it has come to this and I know something has to be done but I also know that there are Bury fans out there who are heartbroken about what has happened. In comparison, a cancelled game is relatively small beer but teams spend time and money trying to get things right at the right time so it's harsh on them too. Whether an extra weeks preparation can compare to sharpening up with real competition remains to be seen but it leaves me very little actual sport to comment about from our opposition’s point of view.
I can't talk about MKD's form as they have none yet but I can talk about some of the players they've signed since their promotion from League Two last season. One that caught my eye was goalscoring midfielder Ben Reeves who scored seven times in 43 starts over the last 2 season for Charlton. Reeves joined Charlton from MKD after scoring 24 goals in 86 starts and having returned, he will be aiming to recapture that form.
Another recognisable face is that of 24-year-old ex-Cardiff forward Rhys Healy who scored eight times in fifteen starts on loan at Stadium MK last season. It's his first permanent move after a series of goalscoring loan moves from parent club Cardiff.
There's also Joe Mason who's played for season after season, scoring goals for four different clubs in the Championship (Cardiff, Bolton, Wolves and Burton). He's back from a short stay in America with Colorado and at a level where the 28-year-old striker should succeed. If he can hit the ground running, he could be one of the cannier signings in League One this season. Paul Tisdale lost a few potential goals when last seasons 2nd top scorer moved to Charlton but there seems to be a good few goalscorers in his new signings and I wonder if they might be one of the dark horses this season.
Milton Keynes Dons are going to face a Shrewsbury Town team that kept a clean sheet against one of the division’s top teams. We also saw what is technically known as a screamer from a debutant and a decent all-around performance, so confidence shouldn't be a problem. Despite that excellent win though, there is still plenty to be done before these players become the team that fulfils its potential. We looked extremely robust against a good Pompey team, understandings look to be developing well all around the pitch and the team spirit was obvious. I'm cautiously optimistic at the moment with the caution being to not load too much expectation on a developing team too early. Some may say I'm being a wet blanket, they might be right.
Head to Head
We've played each other 14 times with Town winning twice and losing six times. Probably our most memorable encounters (at least they were for us!) were the two League Two play-off games, which seem so long ago now. The home leg was played at the beautiful old Meadow and ended in deadlock but we won the away leg 2-1 with 2 goals from Shropshire lad Andy Cooke. It's not the only time we've won in Milton Keynes, in 2013 we won 3-2 there with a brace from both
Tom Eaves and Ryan Lowe (for MKD) before the tie was settled by an own goal. The home game is a particularly significant because it was our last ever competitive game at Gay Meadow.
Brett Huxtable from Devon is this weekend’s referee. He's been a Football League Referee since 2016 and before that he officiated at Conference level for a number of years. His first game in charge of Shrewsbury Town was a 1-0 away win at Scunthorpe in 2017. He was also in charge last season when we lost 2-1 at Plymouth. Mr Huxtable had to remove the players during a game between Crawley and Yeovil in 2018 because of drone incursion, the first and only time this has happened in the EFL. Brett's assistant referees are Declan Ford and Kevin Howick. The fourth official is Grant Taylor.
Both managers have enough about them to both be polite about each other whilst not trying to give anything away. On their official website, Paul Tisdale referenced our last two seasons to suggest that we can scrap but also have potential. Sam Ricketts has cast us in the role of underdog because they're fresher and because Paul Tisdale has recruited well.
Ollie Norburn is still a few weeks from fitness and Steve Morison has signed a one-year contract with Town, freeing up one of our loan spots. Josh Laurent is missing with a muscle problem but Abo Eisa is available after getting hit in the head with the ball against Portsmouth.
When it comes to the result, I'm not sure what to expect. I was expecting a draw last weekend so I was more than happy with the win. I'd be happy enough with a draw again as it's an away game against an unknown quantity, so a point wouldn't be such a bad return. Having said that, I'm certain that Paul Tisdale's team would have rather faced a team that lost last weekend than one that beat a fancied team and kept a clean sheet. So an interesting game and one I think we can get something from if we work as hard as last weekend