Form, odds and stats ahead of MK Dons' home clash with Sunderland
The tough challenges keep on coming for MK Dons as they host in-form Sunderland at Stadium MK this Saturday.
After a difficult start to life under manager Phil Parkinson, who took over from Jack Ross in October, the Black Cats have picked up form lately, unbeaten in their last six in League One .
They only sit outside of the play-offs, in seventh, as a result of Burton’s win over Dons on Tuesday night, though Sunderland have a game in hand over the Brewers above them.
Parkinson’s side have scored seven goals in their last two games, beating Lincoln 3-1 before a thumping 4-0 win over second placed Wycombe, scoring three times in 21 minutes.
Donbs biss Russell Martin said: "They've picked up under Phil Parkinson, who is a really good manager who knows the league and always has his teams organised. But we always say, at Stadium MK it has to be about us and us trying to control a game of football. We have real respect for them, and I think they will be right up there come the end of the season, but we have to go and win the game."
In what will be the fourth meeting between Dons and Sunderland, Sunderland have been victorious on all three previous occasions. Their last trip to Milton Keynes came in the League Cup in Sepotember 2012. Despite Lee Cattermole’s first half red card, second half strikes from Craig Gardner and James McClean ensured safe passage into the next round.
But 'four minutes of madness’ was how former boss Paul Tisdale described Dons’ 2-1 defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in September. Max Power and Luke O’Nien netted in quick succession as Dons capitulated midway through the opening half to hand Sunderland a two-goal lead. Despite Jordna Bowery’s 55th minute strike pulling one back, Dons were unable to equalise.
Martin added: "I thought we played alright on the day, and could have got something towards the end. I think it's a symptom of where we are at the moment – a little spell in a game has cost us points. It has happened too often. It has gone from our game recently.
"They're a completely different team now, and so are we in terms of systems, shape, managers. I expect it to be a really good game. We've played some good teams here, and got some good results and hopefully we can get another one."
Ben Toner takes charge of the game, his 22nd game of the season. He has dished out 65 yellow cards and five reds this term. Dons fans last saw him in the 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon in September, while Sunderland fans saw him when their side drew 1-1 with Rotherham 10 days later.
The bookmakers have Dons at 3/1 to win the game on Saturday, but offer Sunderland at evens, with the draw at 13/5.