How different Bury’s fortunes seemed after these two sides last met. I was a witness to that game and in truth, a draw would’ve been a much fairer result than the 3-1 reverse MK Dons suffered. The game proved to be the zenith of the Shakers’ season; however, it was just another statistic in a long, unwanted sequence for the home side, with fans having to wait until December to see a win at stadium:mk in the league.
The Buckinghamshire outfit have turned their season away from the rocks after appointing Hearts manager Robbie Nelson. Much like the outgoing Karl Robinson, he is a young coach and is likely to be given time to put his mark on the club (although some of their supporters would argue Robinson was given too much time). Early signs have been encouraging for him and, given his charges’ current position, can start to make plans for an assault on the top six next season.
The last game also proved very costly in terms of player availability: vice-captain Darren Potter, given the armband in the absence of long time skipper Dean Lewington, hauled down Rob Hall deep inside the area, leaving the referee no choice but to give him a second yellow. Centre back Joe Walsh was also cautioned, leaving the Dons desperately short of experience in their backline and deeper midfield.
Highly rated Chuks Aneke has recovered well from a long injury setback (and indeed only made his debut in November). He has pace to burn and an eye for goal, which has already been proven in spectacular fashion very recently. Nicky Maynard does a lot of the dirty work to allow Aneke the space to show off his talent and his role cannot be ignored.
In a reversal of the fixture earlier in the season, Bury will probably have the majority of the possession and MK Dons will look to counter at even the sniff of an opportunity. The Shakers are likely to make just one change from the victory over Swindon, with Andrew Tutte making an impact from the bench in that game and he should replace the off-colour Scott Burgess. The same defensive solidity will be key to earning a positive result, but more craft and guile going forward will also be required to unlock a side that are likely to be only too happy to have men behind the ball and soak up any pressure.
I think because they are shorn of Ben Reeves, who dictated the tempo in September’s match, as well as Lewington, Potter and Walsh, Bury have a real chance of winning this match. Of course, Bury have their own list of absentees as they have done all season and whilst they are unlikely to be able to play as good quality football as the visitors, perhaps having more at stake will give them the edge. For that reason, I am going for a 2-1 victory. By sheer coincidence, that is the scoreline that Exile Jr. picked out. Hopefully, it will be enough to leapfrog Oldham and be above the relegation zone.