Liam Manning outlines MK Dons expectation as Burton Albion clash looms

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Liam Manning outlines MK Dons expectation as Burton Albion clash looms
© Provided by Football League World League One – Wigan Athletic v Milton Keynes Dons

Milton Keynes Dons head coach Liam Manning has said he expects a ‘difficult’ match when his side face Burton Albion in League One tonight.

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Despite being 11th in League One, Burton have one of the best home records in the division, having only been beaten three times at the Pirelli Stadium this season.

Manning is under no illusion that The Dons will have to be at their best to get a result.

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“It will be a really difficult one,” Manning said via the MK Dons club website.

“We were talking today about the game here (in November) and how difficult it was in terms of the press that they put on – they were extremely physical and on the front foot.

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“The staff have done a terrific job there if you look at where they were when Jimmy joined and where they are now – they have really progressed.

“We know it will be a difficult game and we know we’ll have to be at our optimal level to get anything out of it.” 

The game at Burton is an opportunity for MK Dons to get back to winning ways after being beaten 1-0 by Doncaster Rovers on Saturday – their first loss in six matches.

The Dons currently sit 5th in League One, but a win at the Pirelli Stadium could see them close the gap on the automatic promotion places to just five points.

“That’s the beauty of this league. We have the emotion and frustration of the other day we can’t dwell on it, we have to go again on Tuesday,” Manning said, reflecting on the quick turnaround after Saturday’s defeat. 

“The biggest thing, when analysing it, is that when you look at the data,  the number of chances we created, shots that we had inside the box and crosses, it is a lot higher than games that we compared it too, such as Gillingham and Accy (Accrington Stanley). We performed a lot better than we have done previously against a low block.

“I hate losing but there were a large amount of positives and if we keep producing those numbers, we will win more of them games than we lose.”

At times this season MK Dons have struggled when faced with a low block deployed by the opposition. Ryan Manning says those systems create a different sort of challenge for his players.

“When you play against a block, it creates a different challenge. It becomes a mental challenge to maintain focus and detail of your work has to be at a much higher level,” he said. 

“The guys have been so terrific when teams engage us higher, that we end up forcing them back into a low block – we have become victims of our own success.” 

MK Dons face Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium tonight, Tuesday 25th January, with the League One clash set for a 7:45pm kick-off.

The Verdict

24 of Burton Albion’s 36 points have come at the Pirelli Stadium this season, so Liam Manning is right to expect a tough game when his MK Dons side travel there for tonight’s match.

However, as Manning discussed, Burton played on the front foot the last time the two teams met and that could suit MK Dons, who have struggled against more defensive sides this season.

With The Dons chasing down the automatic promotion places in League One, potentially going within five points of them with a win tonight, Manning’s side should have more than enough motivation to be targeting maximum points at the Pirelli Stadium.

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