Meet Town’s opposition: an ex-Canary, Concrete Cows and a struggling team

PUBLISHED: 17:01 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:23 03 October 2020

Ipswich Town fans celebrate on the final whistle at Stadium MK, following a 1-0 win last season. Picture: PAGEPIX

Ipswich Town fans celebrate on the final whistle at Stadium MK, following a 1-0 win last season. Picture: PAGEPIX

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Ipswich Town pay their fourth visit to Stadium MK this afternoon. Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over a club that is still seen as the villain of the piece by many football supporters

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert enjoys the 1-0 win at Stadium MK last season, played on a midweek evening in September. Picture: PAGEPIXIpswich Town boss Paul Lambert enjoys the 1-0 win at Stadium MK last season, played on a midweek evening in September. Picture: PAGEPIX

Ipswich Town have yet to lose a league fixture at the hands of MK Dons, and the league leaders will be gunning for a hat-trick of wins at the resplendent Stadium MK this afternoon.

The Dons have only been in existence since 2004, following the controversial relocating of Wimbledon FC from South London to Buckinghamshire.

The new club, based in the new town of Milton Keynes - itself only established as a New Town in 1967 - initially took over the name, badge and home colours of the old Wimbledon FC.

But within a year the name, badge and colours had changed, followed by perhaps the biggest change in 2007 when the club (Milton Keynes Dons) moved into the new Stadium MK from their temporary home at the National Hockey Stadium.

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Town never played at the old venue - though I personally did visit the National Hockey Stadium on a few occasions, marvelling at the Concrete Cows sculpture (three cows and three calves) sited outside the stadium - and their first visit to the Dons’ new home ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat after a dramatic 3-3 draw in the Carling Cup in the summer of 2007.

However, Town have bossed this fixture ever since, Brett Pitman scoring an early winner in a 1-0 away victory in the Championship in December, 2015, and Jon Nolan following suit with a 12th minute winner in another 1-0 success in September of last year.

MK Dons manager Russell Martin, the former Norwich City defender. Picture: PAMK Dons manager Russell Martin, the former Norwich City defender. Picture: PA

THE BOSS

MK Dons new boss, Russell Martin, needs no introduction for Town fans.

Martin rattled up 309 first-team appearances for deadly rivals Norwich City, between 2010 and 2018, mostly as a right-back or centre-half.

He had a spell as club captain, played a key role in the Canaries’ rise into the Premier League, and also won 29 caps for Scotland.

Martin has made no secret of the fact that one day he would like to return to Carrow Road as a manager, but for the moment the 34-year-old is tackling his first managerial job with MK Dons.

He initially arrived as a player at the start of 2019, but took over from Paul Tisdale as the new manager last November, announcing his retirement as a player the very next day.

TOUGH TIMES

Ipswich Town fans look a little nervous during a nail-biting second half at Stadium MK last season. Picture: PAGEPIXIpswich Town fans look a little nervous during a nail-biting second half at Stadium MK last season. Picture: PAGEPIX

The Dons finished last season in 19th spot, five points clear of the drop, when the campaign was ended early and the points readjusted.

Martin’s men have not found it easy during the opening weeks of this campaign, despite defender Baily Cargill earning them a point on the opening day with an 88th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Doncaster Rovers.

Since then, they have suffered back-to-back league defeats at the hands of Lincoln City (2-1 at home) and Crewe Alexandra (2-0 away) when former Colchester United centre forward Mikael Mandron headed home the opening goal.

So the Dons come into this game third-from-bottom with just one point, level with Rochdale and Bristol Rovers.

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Despite their chequered past, and controversial roots, the Dons have enjoyed considerable success during their first couple of decades on the Football League stage.

They won the League Two title, and the Football League Trophy, during their first season at Stadium MK under manager Paul Ince in 2007, and eight years later went on to win promotion to the Championship with Karl Robinson at the helm.

NEW SIGNINGS

The Dons were busy in the transfer market over the summer, bringing in several new players.

Given Martin’s strong links with Norwich City, it has not been surprising that a few have made the switch from Carrow Road to Stadium MK.

Striker Carlton Morris arrived on a season-long loan from the Canaries, as did 25-year-old midfielder Louis Thompson. The latter had also been on loan with the Dons for a short time kast term.

Left-back Daniel Garvie was snapped up from Scottish Championship outfit Ayr United for an undisclosed fee, while fellow Scot, midfielder Scott Fraser, was secured on a free transfer from Burton Albion.

Other recent Dons’ signings include Danish midfielder Lasse Sorensen, on a season-long loan from Stoke City, defender Warren O’Hara, on a similar deal from Brighton, and veteran defender Richard Keogh (aged 33), the ex-Derby County centre-half and captain.

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