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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

20 February 2024 Venue Stadium MK Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

PREVIEW | MK Dons v Wrexham

At last, the rematch of a remarkable first game of the season.

19 February 2024

You might have noticed a bit of a fuss in North Wales last Summer, as Wrexham finally ended our exile and returned to the EFL. Our opening fixture was meant to be a triumphant homecoming....and then MK Dons came along. The ultimate party-poopers, they triumphed in a dumb-founding 5-3 win, and now they look to complete the double in a mouth-watering match-up.


A week is, indeed, a long time in football. Seven days ago, Wrexham were licking our wounds after a fourth consecutive defeat, but two games and six points later we find ourselves three points behind long-term league leaders Stockport County with a game in hand.

Last Tuesday's vital if hard-fought win at Sutton stopped the rot, and on Saturday the latest installment in rivalry with Notts County, our new best enemies, saw a return to that pleasingly familiar sight: a confident Wrexham, backed by vociferous support, playing with control and claiming a fine win.

The victory was not without its challenges: both Ryan Barnett and James Jones, who had each been outstanding, broke down and will be doubts for MK Dons. George Evans also didn't recover from the injury whih forced him off at Sutton in time to line up on Saturday. However, with defensive injuries beginning to clear up, Phil Parkinson has deep reserves to call upon, and the impressive cameos off the bench in the last week by Luke Young, Ollie Palmer, Jack Marriott and Jacob Mendy showed that there are plenty of players raring to go if given the chance.



The Dons have been operating on a "one for you, one for me" basis in 2024, alternating wins with losses through their last nine league matches. If they maintain that pattern, Wrexham will be more than happy, as MK Dons come into this match off the back of a win!

Having ended 2023 with a nine-game unbeaten run which thrust them back into the heart of the promotion battle after an Autumn slump cost manager Graham Alexander his job, the Dons have been frustrated by erratic form which had seen opportunities to strike for the top three squandered.

"We want a string of good results together," Assistant Head Coach Ian Watson told the Milton Keynes Citizen. "You can never predict it in football, results are a bit up and down at the moment so we're looking to smooth them out. We're looking to improve as a club, the players and the staff.

At this point of the season, you're starting to look at how many games you've got left, every game becomes a bit of a cup final and results can fluctuate.

"You're naïve if you think you're not going to have a bad spell or a bad game, all teams have it. This run seems to be a bit extreme because of how results have been going. The league is full of good players and teams, and they're all desperate to do well."

Injuries have played a part in The Dons' inconsistent form, and strikers Max Dean and Ellis Harrison, plus goalie Filip Marschall, all missed last Saturday's game at Swindon.

"It could have been a better January with the injuries," Watson explained. "It's up to us as coaches to get everyone to the level they need to be, so responsibility lies with us and we want them to go out and express themselves.

"When everyone is fit and healthy, you're always wary because in football, you get spells where you pick up a couple of injuries.

"The timing has been tough, and the people it has happened to all seem to be in the same position. Max was flying for us and was pivotal to what we were doing, but picked up that injury. We were keen to get Ellis in because he was chomping at the bit, and then he picked up a little injury.

"We've been hit with a couple of injuries, which is part of football, but the groups is sticking together. We're as positive as we can be and we trust whoever comes in because we know they will give everything."

The replacements certainly did that at the County Ground, earning a 2-1 win as Dan Kemp made a victorious return to Swindon. The playmaker spent the first half of the season on loan with The Robins and was a sensational success. Fourteen goals and eight assists meant his recall to Stadium MK in January was inevitable, and he has been a regular selection by Head Coach Mike Williamson since his return.
Swindon manager Gavin Gunning was fulsome in his praise of Kemp and his MK Dons team mates, with a revealing analysis of their qualities in the Swindon Advertiser:

“He just partakes in a role in their team, it was different when he was here, he was the main man, he had freedom to play and do his own thing.

“But there it’s more strategic and it’s very well coached, proper possession-based, dominate the ball, make the pitch big when they’ve got it, close the space when they haven’t.

“I’ve been really impressed from what I’ve seen in them, but Kemp is a great fantastic player for this level but he’s just one in a club there.

 “I think they’ve got a lot of players that are just as good as him, that’s the problem. They’ve got some fantastic players and you think with the type of team they have; they should be top three maybe top four…they have one of the best teams in the league for sure.

“Considering Dawson (Devoy) has now turned into one of our best players and couldn’t even get into their squad just shows where they’re at.”

Kemp has faced Wrexham twice already this season: he scored twice and managed an assist for Swindon in the extraordinary 5-5 draw at the Stok Cae Ras last August, but was powerless to prevent us from enjoying a 1-0 win at the County Ground on Boxing Day.


With three defeats in three games at Milton Keynes, Phil Parkinson's side will be looking to achieve a first for Wrexham at Stadium MK. Our first two games away to The Dons didn't actually take place there: their temporary home at the National Hockey Stadium played host instead.

Our first game against them, in December 2004, was a sorry affair as we just weren't competitive. We were always chasing the game after Nicky Rizzo's seventh minute opener, and it was no surprise when Wade Small scored two more in the second-half to complete a 3-0 scoreline.   

In April 2008 we suffered a highly controversial defeat there.  Lee McEvilly scored the opening goal and Brian Carey's side looked comfortable until, seven minutes before the break, referee Keith Hill stunned everyone by giving a penalty against Lee Roche for handball and sending him off! 

Keith Andrews scored from the spot but the Red Dragons looked to have earned a point until Clive Platt's winner in the 85th minute, though many felt the ball didn't cross the line!   

To round off a disappointing day, by the end of the game we were down to nine men with Simon Spender in goal because Mike Ingham went off injured after we'd used all our subs! 

Our first visit to Stadium MK came just a month after Wrexham beat MK Dons, who were top of the league, for the first time, thanks to a brilliant late goal by Neil Roberts. That victory was a rare bright point in the season we were relegated from the EFL, and the return match brought us back down to reality with a bump.

The Dons were 2-0 up after ten minutes, although Wrexham held on and pulled a goal back on the hour when Roberts scored a penalty which he won himself, but the promotion-chasing hosts scored two more to complete the 4-1 scoreline.

The list of Wrexham's top scorers against MK Dons is hardly lengthy!  Neil Roberts has scored three of the seven goals we have managed to put past them, and the 3-5 defeat which started this season is the only time we have scored more than one goal past an MK Dons keeper in six attempts.


AFC Wimbledon v Crawley Town
Gillingham v Stockport County
Walsall v Morecambe
There are only three other games being played, as this match was rearranged due to our FA Cup adventure. The outstanding match sees leaders Stockport County make the tricky trip to Gillingham, who lurk one point off the play-offs. Any hopes Wrexham fans harbour of taking advantage of any County slip-up has to be offset against the fact that we're making the same trip on Saturday!


Wim-H-GT-051.jpgBen Tozer's 500th league appearance.


Luke Young's 500th career game.

Luke Young's 250th Wrexham match.

LJ5_4682.jpgJordan Tunnicliffe's 325th career match.


Aaron Hayden's 250th career game.


Sam Dalby's 150th league appearance.


Max Cleworth's 75th league match.

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Match Reports

REPORT | MK Dons 1-1 Wrexham AFC

McClean header earns point as both sides reduced to ten in fiery clash

20 February 2024

James McClean’s first-half header helped Wrexham earn a point away to promotion rivals MK Dons, in a fiery game in which both sides finished with ten men.

McClean gave Wrexham a deserved lead, but Dan Kemp equalised as MK Dons responded well to going behind.

Controversy struck in the second-half, however, when Arthur Okonkwo spilled Joe Tomlinson’s shot and MK Dons believed the ball had been dragged over the line as the keeper recovered. Dean Lewington was sent off for his protests, before Will Boyle picked up a second yellow card as both sides finished with ten men.

With the fixtures coming thick and fast, Phil Parkinson made five changes from the team which started the 1-0 win at home to Notts County to Saturday.

Luke Young captained the team in his 250th Wrexham game, while Luke Bolton, Jacob Mendy, Sam Dalby and Jack Marriott also came into the starting XI.

It meant McClean moving into a more central role, while Paul Mullin, Ryan Barnett and Elliot Lee all started on the bench. Steven Fletcher and James Jones were the two players to miss out.

Marriott, starting his second consecutive away game, set about making himself a pest for the MK Dons defence from early on.

He nearly managed to sneak between Warren O’Hora and Michael Kelly in the fifth minute, as the defender shepherded the ball back to the keeper but could not quite get a touch.

Five minutes later, he snatched possession from Daniel Harvie on the halfway line and charged forward. Marriott hit the ball hard across goal, but the deflection off O’Hora was kind for Kelly.

Marriott was in again on the quarter-hour, this time when a long ball bounced all the way through, but – from a tight angle – he volleyed into the side-netting left-footed.

Dalby was next to try his luck a minute later, pouncing when MK Dons were caught at the back again, but his low shot was saved and Wrexham could not make the rebound count.

Wrexham’s pressure paid off on 22 minutes, when McClean met Young’s outswinging corner with a diving header at the near post, that beat Kelly.

The lead was fully deserved, but lasted just four minutes before Kemp applied to the finishing touch to an incisive passing move with a powerful near-post finish to level.

It was MK Dons’ first real chance but they nearly turned the game completely on its head in the 29th minute when Alex Gilbey skipped inside and shot low on his right foot – Okonkwo saved well to his left.

Wrexham weathered the storm, however, and started to grow back into the game. First, Dalby and Bolton combined well on 35 minutes, only for the striker to shoot well over.

A minute later, James McClean found time and space in the middle of the MK Dons’ half and unleashed a fierce, rising strike from 35 yards but his effort whistled high and wide.

Andy Cannon was next to try his luck, shooting powerfully from the edge of the box on 37 minutes, but his shot deflected clear off a defender.

Wrexham received a let-off five minutes later, however, when McClean sold Boyle short with a backpass and the hosts counter-attacked with pace. Gilbey received the ball and cut inside onto his right foot, but dragged his shot wide.

It then took an Arthur Okonkwo special to keep the scores level at the break – the goalkeeper producing a stunning one-handed stop to turn Harvie’s curling shot, which looked destined for the top corner, onto the post in first-half stoppage time.

The visitors came out strong after the break, however, with Marriott involved from the off again.

It was the striker’s darting run that created a shooting chance for McClean on 47 minutes but, from a tight angle, the Irishman’s effort was into the side-netting.

At the other end, Boyle picked up the game’s first booking in the 48th minute, for a cynical foul in the middle of the park.

Young then won possession in middle on 50 minutes and, in the same sliding movement, played Marriott in behind the defence but Kelly saved his powerful left-footed effort.

The game exploded around the hour-mark, however, as MK Dons thought they had taken the lead when Okonkwo spilled Joe Tomlinson’s effort. In truth, the shot was straight at Okonkwo, but he fumbled and – though he recovered – MK Dons were adamant he had carried the ball over the line in the process.

Wrexham counter-attacked, and it took a good clearance over his own bar by Lewis Bate as Marriott headed across goal towards Dalby. The drama was not over there, however, as Dons captain Lewington earned a straight red card for his reaction to the referee.

The visitors looked to drive home the man advantage, bringing on Mullin, Lee and Barnett, before Ollie Palmer also joined the fray shortly afterwards.

Just as Wrexham were building pressure, however, the man advantage was wiped out on 77 minutes. Dennis beat Boyle on the edge of the area and was tripped by the defender, who earned a second yellow card for the foul.

Tomlinson whipped the subsequent free-kick just over, while Mullin’s shot at the other end was deflected wide on 80 minutes.

Wrexham had more of the attacking possession as the clocked ticked down, including through eight minutes time added on, but it took another fine save from Okonkwo to seal a point. Tomlinson was unmarked in the area in the 97th minute, but the keeper spread himself to save.


MK Dons: Kelly, Norman (Harrison 90), Lewington, O’Hora, Tomlinson, Bate, Gilbey, Wearne (Dennis 64), Harvie, Payne (Williams 79), Kemp (Lofthouse 64)

Subs not used: Harness, Robson, Tezgel

Wrexham: Okonkwo, Cleworth, O’Connell, Boyle, Bolton (Barnett 63), Cannon, Young, McClean, Mendy (Lee 63), Marriott (Mullin 63), Dalby (Palmer 71)

Subs not used: Howard, Tozer, Davies

Referee: Sam Purkiss

Attendance: 11,282 (1,436 away)


MK Dons: Harvie (82, dissent)

Wrexham: Boyle (48, foul), O’Connell (61, unsportsmanlike behaviour)


MK Dons: Lewington (60, dissent)

Wrexham: Boyle (77, second bookable offence)

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