Fixture: MK Dons v Northampton Town, FA Cup third round replay
Date/time: Tuesday, January 19, 7.45pm kick-off
Forecast: 0C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Dons: Darren Potter (knee), Joe Walsh, Dean Lewington, Carl Baker (ankle), Josh Murphy (hamstring), Daniel Powell, Kyle McFadzean (suspended). Cobblers: Alfie Potter (ribs), Lawson D’Ath (groin), Lee Martin (cup-tied), James Collins (cup-tied), Paul Corry (knee)
Betting: Dons 10/11, draw 5/2, Northampton 3/1
Form guide: Dons WLDDLW, Cobblers WWDWWL
Likely line-ups: Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Spence, Kay, Upson, Hodson; Carruthers, Forster-Caskey; Hall, Reeves, Bowditch; Maynard. Northampton (4-4-1-1): Smith; Moloney, Cresswell, McDonald, Buchanan; Holmes, O’Toole, Byrom, Adams; Hoskins; Richards.
Man in the middle: Tony Harrington
Last time out: MK Dons 1 (Walsh) Reading 0; Dagenham 1 (Doidge) Northampton 2 (O’Toole, Holmes)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, January 9, 2016 – Northampton 2 (Holmes 2) Dons 2 (Cresswell OG, Maynard)
Overall record v Dons: P7 W1 D1 L5
Opposition view: Dons boss Karl Robinson: “There will probably be five changes and four are forced but we aren’t playing a weakened team – our team is very strong.
“It’s important we get ourselves up for it because the prize at the end of it is a phenomenal game against Chelsea. People expected me to be down after the Northampton draw, but we saw it as a good opportunity to get some other players back out on the pitch. It’ll be a big crowd here, and that means more money. It’ll be an intense atmosphere.”
Cobblers connection: Former Northampton number one Lee Harper will have a keen eye on this game which sees two of his former clubs go head-to-head. After 182 appearances between 2002 and 2007, Harper was ousted as Cobblers’ first choice by current Villa keeper Mark Bunn and subsequently left Sixfields to join MK Dons on loan. He made the move permanent in January 2007 but only played 11 times before moving to Kettering Town.
James Heneghan’s preview: Two close rivals, one huge prize at stake. Games don’t get much bigger than this one.
With almost 7,000 Cobblers fans set to make the short trip down the M1 and descend on Milton Keynes, and with Premier League champions Chelsea lying in wait for the winners, tonight’s FA Cup third round replay is one not to be missed.
Victory is needed to ensure that this evening goes down as a memorable one for Cobblers fans, of course, and while a win would hardly make the waves of other FA Cup upsets, the consequences certainly will for those of a Northampton Town persuasion.
It’s not only the glamour of facing Guus Hiddink, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard that gives both of these two teams an almighty incentive, but also the financial rewards on offer with the winners of this tie to pocket around £211,500 in total – £144,000 in TV money plus another £67,500 for reaching the fourth round stage.
It’s quite the motivation.
When the fourth round draw was made last week, it brought back memories of 2004 when, after a 1-1 draw at Sixfields, the Cobblers faced a replay at First Division side Rotherham United with the winners to host the then-champions of England Manchester United in the fourth round.
On that occasion, goals from Paul Hurst and Martin Smith earned Northampton that lucrative tie, the last time Town reached the fourth round.
History could well be about to repeat itself and the season that just keeps on giving has Cobblers fans once again dreaming of coming face-to-face with English football’s best side, albeit perhaps not on the form of this season, however a Dons side buoyed by a crucial win over Reading at the weekend will be sure to have something to say.
Karl Robinson has vowed to name a strong MK Dons team but he is severely handicapped by absentees with as many as seven first team players potentially missing through injury or suspension.
With Lawson D’Ath and Alfie Potter injured and James Collins and Lee Martins cup-tied, Chris Wilder has little choice in fielding what some might argue is his best front four with Sam Hoskins likely to play behind striker Marc Richards who will be flanked by Nicky Adams and Ricky Holmes.
MK Dons might be odds-on favourites with the bookies but for those of us fortunate enough to follow this remarkable Northampton campaign, it would be little surprise to see the Cobblers prevail. It’s been that sort of season.
Prediction: MK Dons 1 Northampton 1 (Cobblers to win on penalties)