HEAD-TO-HEAD: Neilson cannot wait for his home debut

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson

Robbie Neilson’s first league game in charge doesn’t come much bigger as Dons play host to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

The sides will meet for the fourth time at Stadium MK, but the first time in the league, and something of a baptism of fire for Neilson.

But big derbies aren't something he's unfamiliar with, having grown up through his career with the huge Edinburgh derby between Hearts and Hibs.

The tensions between Dons and AFC is a rivalry based not so much on location but history, and it's uniqueness is something Neilson has learned about in the last few days.

“It’ll be great,” said the new manager. “I’ve been in big games in Scotland before, like the Hearts and Hibs derby, so I’ve been part of huge games. It’s part of football and it’s what you want to be part of.

"I knew the history of it. From the outside looking in, I didn't know the real ins and outs but the more people I've spoken to, I know the real significance it holds for both clubs. It's important the players know that I know that now.

"(Abuse from rival fans) is part and parcel of football. Being involved is intense, and football sometimes gets put aside for 10, 15 minutes during the game. But we're not there to get involved in all the rigmarole surrounding the game, we're there to win it. This week, we're focusing on the game. The players will be ready, we feel the atmosphere is good and we're ready to get a result.

“It’s a great start for me and it’s one I’m confident the players are ready to go out and win.”

Saturday's encounter, kicking off at 1pm, will be the fourth between the sides since 2012 - all of which have been at Stadium MK.

Dons won the first meeting between the two sides in the FA Cup back in 2012 as a last minute Jon Ostemobor goal, dubbed the Heel of God, booked Karl Robinson’s side into the third round.

The next two meetings both took place in 2014. Dons won the League Cup meeting 3-1 before AFC got some revenge in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, coming from behind to win 3-2.