HEAD-TO-HEAD: Robbo goes from from friend to foe

Dons chairman Pete Winkelman and former Dons boss Karl Robinson
Dons chairman Pete Winkelman and former Dons boss Karl Robinson

Football: It's a funny old game. When MK Dons and Charlton Athletic were drawn together in the FA Cup, few could have predicted than anything other than a place in the third round would be at stake.

Of course, much more lies on it now. Seventeen days passed between the draw and Karl Robinson's appointment as manager of the Addicks, and now the fixture represents more of a grudge match just a cup tie.

For Dons, it will be a marker to their former boss that they've moved on. While debacle to replace him has taken longer than anyone would have suspected, they finally appear to have found their man in the form of Robbie Neilson.

Whether he indeed takes up a spot on the touchline alongside Robinson at The Valley on Saturday, or whether that responsibility lies with Richie Barker - Robinson's longest serving assistant - for an eighth time is yet to be established. Neilson is also, of course, yet to be confirmed as Dons boss.

For Robinson meanwhile, it's a chance to get one over on his own paymasters, while getting his feet firmly under the table in south London with a win in his first game for his new supporters and potentially landing a big money third round draw.

Both sides plied their trade in the Championship last season, but both had campaigns they'd rather forget. In fact, both games between the sides last season were far from memorable - the game at The Valley in particular was far from vintage as both sides sought to get out of trouble, only to battle out a torrid 0-0 draw.

In fact, Robinson's record against Charlton during his Dons tenure wasn't really one to write home about: in seven match-ups, Dons won just twice, and only picked up a point when playing in London.

Charlton though head into the game with the favourable record of late. While Dons won their first league game since October 1 last weekend against Coventry City to climb out of the relegation zone, Charlton have lost just one of their last 10 outings in all competitions. But it was a run which cost Russell Slade his top, allowing Robinson to take over a week ago.

And they booked their spot in the second round in convincing fashion with a 3-1 win over League 1 table toppers Scunthorpe. Dons meanwhile edged past Spennymoor 3-2 in a game more comfortable than the scoreline may suggest in what was their first win at Stadium MK in more than eight months.

Away from home, Dons' record is significantly better with seven wins this season coming on the road - the win against Spennymoor remaining their only triumph at home.

"When we beat Spennymoor and we drew Charlton, knowing it would be a tough game. But football has an unbelievable way of throwing up these sorts of things," said Barker. "And in the meantime, Karl takes that job!

"The one positive about Charlton though is the dugouts are about 50 yards apart! If we were next to each other, it might have been more of an issue and once the game kicks off, it won't be an issue.

"I think they're a team on the up. Before Karl went in, they had some goods results and now you've got to add that 10 per cent for a new manager coming in. It'll be a very tough game.

"I thought they were under-performing, and having watched a few of their games and it amazes me they're anywhere near the bottom half. It'll be two very good sides who like the play the right way, so I think it'll be an entertaining one.

"If this game was in six weeks, maybe, but I think he might be liable to do something a bit different just to throw me off the scent. But also, he knows how I work, so we might do something different to throw him off the scent too. It'll be interested when we see the teams at 1:45pm and then what we see at 3pm - but that's assuming I do it!

"I won't get too carried away by what he does, and you can only give the players so much information, I'll set up in a way we can win the game. It's down to them after that."

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