HEAD-TO-HEAD: Can Dons restore some home pride?

Having put to bed the unnerving 'eight months without a win at home' record, MK Dons will be looking to secure their first home win of the season against Walsall on Saturday.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 3:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:51 pm
MK Dons

Non-league Spennymoor Town became the first side since QPR to leave Stadium MK without at least a share of the spoils last Saturday as Dons booked their spot in the FA Cup second round with a 3-2 win - their first at home since March 5.

But still without a league victory in that time, and Dons perched precariously above the League 1 drop zone, there will be better time to pick up their first than against the Saddlers.

While the hunt for a new manager looks set to continue for another week since Karl Robinson's departure last month, Richie Barker will take charge of his fourth game on Saturday and knows the importance of getting a result.

"We are well aware that failure to pick up a result at the weekend could result in us dropping into the bottom four," he said.

"We need to make sure we're right at it from the start, as we were in the FA Cup game. If we can start like that, not just in terms of the goals, but in terms of the mentality, it'll go a long way in getting that first home league win in however many months."

Jon Whitney's side went through October undefeated after a shaky start to the League 1 season, and find themselves 12th in the table after 15 games. Having lost to non-league Macclesfield in the FA Cup, they travelled to the King Power Stadium to see off Leicester U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy earlier this week.

Barker added: "They're a strong side in good form at the moment. They move the ball quickly, and they've continued the philosophy created by Dean Smith a few years ago. It'll be a good game."

Looking back through history, there isn't a lot to separate the two sides. Since their first meeting in October 2004, Walsall have six victories to Dons' seven, while the spoils have been shared seven times. Walsall had the upper hand over Dons the last time the sides met though, winning 3-0 at Stadium MK before holding them to a 1-1 draw at the Banks's Stadium, as Will Grigg scored against his former club.

Dons will welcome back George Baldock, having served his suspension against Spennymoor at the weekend, but will be without Joe Walsh, who was called up to the Wales squad for their World Cup qualifier against Serbia, meaning former Walsall defender Paul Downing is likely to start against his old club. Dons are still waiting on the fitness of central duo Samir Carruthers, who hobbled off against Sheffield United two weeks ago, and Darren Potter, who missed the game against Spennymoor.

Walsall meanwhile look set to be without Kieron Morris with an ankle injury, while Whitney will welcome back defender James O'Connor after a thigh problem.