Why the home of Wycombe Wanderers is ground zero for MK Dons

Did all of MK Dons’ issues this season begin at Adams Park last May?
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Five times Dons and Wycombe Wanderers crossed paths last season, but it was the two games at Adams Park which bookended the campaign for the team from Milton Keynes... and potentially started their downward spiral.

Dons’ toils this season are well-documented, their issues well and truly covered, their plight plain to see. On Saturday, they take on Wycombe in south Bucks for the first time since last May. And arguably, the start of these problems can be sourced back to their defeat that day.

The first trip there though could also be highlighted as the game which sparked Dons’ season into life. The squad went through a lot of change in January 2022. Dons lost several key loanees, goalkeeper Andrew Fisher and instrumental midfielder Matt O’Riley in the transfer window, but plans were afoot to guide them through it fairly seamlessly. Scott Twine’s 13th minute strike would prove to be the difference between the sides, but the game was marred by crowd trouble.

While Dons fans felt aggrieved by their treatment in the aftermath, the incident galvalised the club. Climbing above the Chairboys on January 29, Dons would not look back. In fact, they would not lose a game for another two-and-a-half months as they roared to third spot. But in finishing third, it would set up a return to Adams Park.

And just as the Adams Park encounter earlier in the season sparked the start of something, their return would snuff it out.

Trailing to Ryan Tafazoli’s first-half header, Dons got dragged into a war on Wycombe’s terms in the first leg of the play-off semi-final - a fight they struggled to stay in. Josh McEachran’s red card with 21 minutes to go lit a further fire under the home side as they doubled their lead in the closing stages to take a 2-0 lead with them to Stadium MK.

Despite a dominant showing, Dons were unable to overhaul the deficit in the return leg, and their bid for promotion was over. The buzzards who had hovered eagerly then scavenged the squad for parts. Dons headed into the new campaign a shadow of their previous form and have struggled ever since.

For the travelling Dons supporters though, the ghosts of Adams Park are still very much lurking around every corner, ready to jump out as a painful reminder of what might have been.

Tomorrow’s trip down Hillbottom Road might not have such big implications on the grand scheme of Dons’ campaign but those behind the scenes and behind the goal will hope it can act as a catalyst for good once again.