HEAD-TO-HEAD: Can Dons get past the high-flying Championship leaders?

Championship leaders Brighton stand in the way of MK Dons and the FA Cup fourth round.
Championship leaders Brighton stand in the way of MK Dons and the FA Cup fourth round.

MK Dons will have their work cut out for them if they hope to book an FA Cup fourth round spot as they head to take on Championship leaders Brighton on Saturday.

Without a defeat in 16 games in all competitions, the Seagulls have surged to the top of the second tier as they set their sights on promotion to the Premier League for the first time.

But Chris Houghton has made several changes to his regular Championship side during their EFL Cup run, and Neilson hopes they will do it again as he tried to gleam any sort of advantage he can.

HEAD TO HEAD - Brighton vs MK Dons
"We have been looking at their cup teams, and they have changed it up quite a bit," said the Dons manager. "But that's to be expected because they're doing really well in the Championship and their ultimate aim is to get promoted to the Premier League.

"So I expect there to be changes, whether that's a whole team, or five or six, we'll see. They've got a huge squad so anyone coming in will be strong, so it will be a really tough game for us.

"We want to put out the strongest team we can. We've not got a huge amount of games coming up, we're playing Saturday-Saturday for a while now. If we can get a cup run, it will be great."

While Brighton entered the competition in this third round, Dons have already played three times in the FA Cup this season. After eventually seeing off Spennymoor Town 3-2 at Stadium MK in the first round, Dons needed a replay and indeed extra time to beat Charlton Athletic 3-1 at Stadium MK, after a 0-0 draw at The Valley.
Dons' fortunes against the Seagulls last season were far from favourable. On both occasions, Dons were beaten 2-1, but penalty kicks would be a haunting factor. At the Amex Stadium - where the sides will meet on Saturday - Samir Carruthers was clattered by Brighton's Lewis Hook only to be denied a spot kick which would have earned them a point on the road.

And the reverse fixture at Stadium MK saw Carl Baker, making his return to the first team after three months out, miss a late penalty which also would have rescued a draw.

Taking on Brighton on the south coast has been a mixed bag for Dons. Having lost on their only trip to the Amex, they picked up two wins and two defeats in League 1 action at the Withdean Stadium.

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