Dons’ next chapter is ready to be written

MK Dons vs AFC
MK Dons vs AFC

It’s a game that splits opinion; a game that some fans wanted while others wanted to avoid. Either way, MK Dons will play AFC Wimbledon at least twice next season.

The south London club beat Plymouth 2-0 in the League 2 play-off final at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday, earning their way into the third tier.

The tale of the rivalry is long, oft told, well-trodden and riddled with Chinese whispers, but ultimately is one which remain highly contentious even 14 years after AFC were formed.

The sides have already met in the past, three times in fact, with Dons coming out on top twice, losing once in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The first meeting between the sides in the second round of the FA Cup on December 2, 2012, was historic for a number of reasons. Controversial as it was, Stephen Gleeson scored Dons’ goal of the season to put the home side ahead.

But an unlikely hero, in the form of Jon Otsemobor stole the headlines when ‘the heel of God’ as it was later dubbed won the day as sent Dons through to the third round.

Daniel Powell celebrates scoring.

Daniel Powell celebrates scoring.

Venomous and eye-catching as it was, the second and third meetings were more subdued. For the neutrals, it was just another in the annuls of football rivalries, no longer having the spark or intrigue.

All three games though have come at stadium:mk, and in cup competition. Next season, it will be the first time the sides will meet on something more of a level playing field.

It will also be the first time Dons have to travel to Kingston for the fixture, likely to play in front of around 4,200 baying home supporters keen for the scalp and bragging rights.

With fixtures against Peterborough, Northampton and Swindon already whetting the appetite with some fiercely contested matches expected as recent rivalries have grown and developed, the result of the play-off final adds yet another fixture to look out for when the list is announced later this month.

Damaged toilets at stadium:mk after AFC clash in 2012

Damaged toilets at stadium:mk after AFC clash in 2012

Sooner or later it had to happen, and for Dons chairman Pete Winkelman et al, it will just be another chapter in the tale.