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This time Dons columnist Dominic Damesick says it’s time for Ryan Lowe to show what he’s all about.
Karl Robinson has named his team for tonight’s FA Cup first round tie against Cambridge City already, and perhaps the main surprise was the strength of the side the manager intends to put out.
Only three changes have been made to the starting 11 that put Scunthorpe to the sword last week, with all of them enforced either due to injury (Daniel Powell and Alan Smith) or parent clubs refusing permission (Angelo Balanta).
The three players to take their places – Jay O’Shea, Adam Chicksen and Ryan Lowe – should all be desperate for the game to kick-off (at the slightly unorthodox time of 7.30pm) and show their manager exactly what they are capable of. The Dons will be relying on a rather untested front three to see them safely through to the second round, but Robinson has always maintained that he has faith in all of his players.
Tonight is perhaps particularly important for Lowe. The striker has endured a fairly miserable time of late and should be eager to start producing the goods – i.e. goals – that the Dons’ fans were promised when he joined the club back in the summer, and which he has usually delivered with such regularity at his previous clubs.
If the former Sheffield Wednesday striker could find the back of the net tonight, and hopefully generate some much needed confidence, then he could have one foot firmly in the proverbial door of the starting line-up. Tonight, Lowe has his chance to get some goals and stake a real claim to be put at the top of Robinson’s list of forward options. Yes, the opposition may be non-league, but chances still have to be converted, and goals are a striker’s main currency – no matter how they arrive or who they are against.
Luke Chadwick will lead the Dons out, replacing Dean Lewington as captain for one night only, in a touching move from Robinson to give Chadwick the chance to captain his club in his home town of Cambridge, at the ground where he was first spotted by a Manchester United scout: his story has truly come full circle.
Chadwick always appears the consummate professional, and I’m sure tonight will be a very proud one for him and his family. His consistently classy performances for the Dons, since arriving at stadium:mk four years ago, mean he has earned this small gesture of respect from his manager and team-mates, and credit should go to Lewington for relinquishing his title for the night, to allow his colleague to have his moment in a floodlit sun.
Tonight’s game will also mark the second time in recent weeks that the Dons have played in front of the television cameras. However, this time round, the match is to be shown on ESPN – a channel that few ever seem to visit, and from which none return (I had to add a little Halloween flavour to this piece).
If you are one of the few lucky enough to subscribe to the channel, you are about to reap your rewards – this FA Cup classic will surely be worth the subscription fee alone – but otherwise one will have to embark on a pub crawl of sorts, in an attempt to find a watering hole that actually shows ESPN!
For residents of Milton Keynes and the surrounding environs, the Red Dot Bar at the stadium will be showing the match; for those a bit further afield, I wish you the best of luck in your quest to find a place to watch the game; and for those who will actually be at the game, wrap up warm!
The game is also being carried by Fox Sports in America, and I have advised all of my friends and family across the pond to tune in for an afternoon – the game kicks-off at 3.30pm east coast time – of unforgettable sporting drama.
I will repeat my message to our American brethren here, in case this column has any state-side readers: bunk off work early, let the build-up to the Presidential Election be sidelined for a few hours, and allow your lives to be greatly enriched as you soak in the sensation of watching, and I quote, ‘by far the greatest team League 1 has ever seen’.
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