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Sep 12, 2015 at 3pm UK at Riverside Stadium


Downing (70'), Nugent (81')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Middlesbrough vs. MK Dons

Sports Mole previews the first ever competitive meeting between Middlesbrough and MK Dons, who face off in a Championship clash this weekend.

Middlesbrough take on MK Dons at the Riverside on Saturday afternoon in the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Boro have made an inconsistent start, while their opponents find themselves just one point further back in 11th place thanks to three wins and a draw from their opening five games at this level.


Middlesbrough's Spanish manager Aitor Karanka gestures from the touchline during the English Championship play off final football match between Middlesbrough and Norwich City at Wembley Stadium in London on May 25, 2015© Getty Images

While it has hardly been a stellar start to the campaign for Boro, they have managed to do enough to pick up the points needed to lift them into the top six.

Compare that to fellow promotion favourites Derby County, for example, who have yet to get off the mark in terms of a league win, and you can see why Aitor Karanka has remained so positive.

The opening-game stalemate against Preston North End, in which the Smoggies looked bereft of any real ideas in the attacking third, made way for a far more positive team display against Bolton Wanderers.

A credible draw away at Derby and three more points against Sheffield Wednesday have also been picked up along the way, but the 1-0 reverse to newly-promoted Bristol City in their last home outing shows that there is still work to be done.

Middlesbrough hardly deserved to lose that match, but despite their array of talents there was simply no way past on-loan stopper Ben Hamer between the sticks.

Only Derby have spent more money than Boro during the off-season, with chairman Steve Gibson parting with £15.6m to help bolster his side's promotion push.

Having come so close just a few months ago, yet ultimately so far, Karanka must now use the spending to turn the Riverside outfit into a real Championship force.

The Spaniard is certainly pleased with his transfer business, admitting that he will now find it "difficult" to name a regular starting lineup, but it is important to now pick up back-to-back league wins for the first time this season when Championship action resumes this weekend.

Recent form in Championship: DWDLW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWDLWW

MK Dons

MK Dons manager Karl Robinson looks on during the Pre-Season Friendly match between MK Dons and Tottenham Hotspur XI at Stadium mk on July 31, 2013© Getty Images

It has been a promising start to life in the second tier for MK Dons, having taken seven points from a possible 15 on offer in the opening month of the campaign.

A 4-1 win over Rotherham United on the maiden weekend looked to have set the tone and, while they have suffered defeats to Preston North End and Birmingham City since, Karl Robinson will be pleased by what he has seen on the whole.

The defensive organisation in particular has proved key for the Dons, who have shipped just four goals in the league this season, meaning that only Middlesbrough can boast a better record in that department.

There is one worrying aspect for Robinson, though, as his side have netted just one goal since that thrashing of Rotherham, failing to score in three of their last four outings.

The problem stems from a lack of shots on target - just nine all term - which the newly-promoted side will need to rectify if they are to maintain their solid mid-table position.

A recent League Cup win over Cardiff City helped to build some momentum, but defeat to Birmingham City in their last game prior to the international break was a sour note to end on.

The loss of Darren Potter through injury, a key component in this League One promotion-winning side, is also a major blow for Robinson's men to contend with if they are to continue picking up points on a consistent basis.

It is the type of news that will have the young boss ruing his luck as his side embark on a first visit to the Riverside Stadium, but they have shown enough in spells this season to suggest that they can trouble the Championship heavyweights.

Recent form in Championship: WLWDL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWDWL

Team News

Darren Potter of MK Dons looks to attack during the Sky Bet League One match between Leyton Orient and MK Dons at The Matchroom Stadium on October 12, 2013© Getty Images

The absence of Potter, who has been ruled out for the next six weeks, will likely see West Ham United loanee Diego Poyet step into a more prominent midfield role.

Poyet has impressed in his first three games for the club, but he will now need to step it up a gear in order to provide some cutting quality in the engine room.

Cody Cropper has also picked up a knee injury, while Dale Jennings, Ben Reeves, Joe Walsh and Mark Randall join him on the growing injury list, but loanee Josh Murphy is available for selection.

In terms of the home side, Karanka has revealed that Albert Adomah is very much a part of his plans after seeing the wideman remain at the club this summer.

Damia Abella and Rhys Williams remain absent for the visit of the Dons, while David Nugent is expected to be given the nod to lead the attack.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Konstantopolous; Friend, Gibson, Ayala, Lopez; Leadbitter, Clayton; Fabbrini, Downing, Reach; Nugent

MK Dons possible starting lineup:
Martin; Lewington, Kay, McFadzean, Spence; Poyet, Bowditch, Carruthers, Murphy; Gallagher, Church

Head To Head

This weekend's clash marks the first ever competitive meeting between the two teams.

The Dons, playing at this level for the first time in this guise, face a daunting task against a Boro side who have won eight of their last 10 home league fixtures.

The shock defeat to Bristol City a few weeks ago will provide plenty of motivation for Robinson's charges, though, as they look to make up the one-point deficit on their opponents in the league table.

Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:

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We say: Middlesbrough 2-0 MK Dons

Middlesbrough may have slipped up in their last Riverside outing, but they have an impressive record in front of their home supporters overall. MK Dons started well enough, meanwhile, and their early points tally suggests that they have what it takes to steer well clear of relegation, but a lack of goals is likely to cost them in the North-East.

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