MK Dons preview

Newport County AFC will be looking to return to winning ways in League Two when they entertain table toppers MK Dons on Saturday. Tuesday night’s emphatic Emirates FA Cup victory over Welsh rivals Wrexham AFC certainly gives County confidence ahead of the game, but they will have to be at their best against a visiting side favoured for promotion come the end of the campaign.

Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…


Last five results in League Two


MK Dons will travel to Rodney Parade as the form side in League Two having lost only one of their previous 13 league fixtures. They have also formidably won nine of the last 11, seeing them ascend the table after going winless in September and they now sit atop of the division.

Looking at their last five fixtures specifically, Paul Tisdale’s side show no signs of easing up the quest for promotion immediately back to the third-tier and they have picked up 12 out of their last 15 points available in League Two.

A lot has been made in the media of how destructive the attacking trio of Chuks Aneke, Kieran Agard and ex-Exile Rhys Healey can be when they get going, and they certainly put Crawley Town to the sword when travelling to West Sussex, with Healey getting two alongside one apiece for his strike partners.

This imperious recent form for the Dons continued as they went to the top of the League Two table for the first time on 17th November when they saw off basement boys Macclesfield Town 2-0 at Stadium MK. Aneke and Agard kept their form going with goals in the second-half as the side went 10 unbeaten in the league.

They couldn’t make it 11 without defeat, however, as Ben Kennedy scored a stunning free-kick in stoppage time to give Stevenage a 3-2 victory at the Lamex Stadium. Agard scored for the fifth successive match in all competitions, Healey added another to his account as well, but goals from Steve Seddon and Scott Cuthbert set up a grandstand finish in Hertfordshire.

It was almost becoming a case of if, not when, a player other than the deadly trio was going to score but that finally changed in the 2-0 home triumph against Morecambe. Another ex-Exile in Alex Gilbey this time found his name on the scoresheet, striking two second-half rockets to fire MK Dons back to the top of League Two.

Last Saturday, Paul Tisdale’s side maintained their unbeaten home league record with a 2-0 triumph over Carlisle United. Jordan Houghton scored his second goal of the campaign five minutes into the second-half, while Agard added a second for the hosts.



MK Dons manager Paul Tisdale looks set to welcome back several key players to his squad for Saturday’s match having confirmed in his press conference yesterday that the club have had a solid weeks training.

At one stage, it looked like Kieran Agard would be the only player of the formidable front three to be passed fit for the trip to Rodney Parade, but ex-Exile Rhys Healey should be able to face his former side and Chuks Aneke is only a minor doubt.

Tisdale said: “Chuks has a minor niggle but there’s every chance he could be back pretty soon. We’re keeping an optimistic view towards Saturday with that one.”

“Rhys took a few [heavy] tackles last weekend but he’s another that we’re hopeful about for Saturday. I think he’s going to be okay.” 

He is, however, going to be without a player he brought with him from Exeter City over the summer as defender Jordan Moore-Taylor is struggling to recover from an injury that forced him to miss last weekend’s match with Carlisle United.

Tisdale continued: “Jordan looks as fit as he ever has but he has an issue which is going to take a week or two to solve itself. We’re not overly worried and we hope to see him back soon.”

Forward Osman Sow and midfielder Peter Pawlett made welcome returns from injury last weekend, but MK Dons are expected to be without long-term absentees Ryan Harley, Joe Walsh and defender Mathieu Baudry.

MK Dons team vs Carlisle United (3-5-2): Nicholls, Williams, Houghton, Cargill, McGrandles, Gilbey, D’Ath (Sow 81’), Cisse, Lewington (C), Agard (Watson 90+2), Healey (Pawlett 70’)  


One to Watch – Kieran Agard


Arguably, the MK Dons one to watch could be any of the formidable front three, but Kieran Agard just shaves it for his rich vein of recent scoring form when helping fire the Dons to the top of the League Two table.

The 29-year old has 11 goals to his name this season, but he’s most importantly netted in six of his last seven appearances across all competitions – against Crawley Town, Grimsby Town, Brighton U21s, Macclesfield Town, Stevenage and Carlisle United.

His further strikes come against Northampton Town, Port Vale, Yeovil Town, Oldham Athletic and most importantly the match winner against manager Paul Tisdale’s former club Exeter City.

Most impressively, his longest goal drought across the campaign is just three matches and it looks extremely likely, barring disaster, that he will set a season high number of goals for an individual campaign whilst with MK Dons – who he joined in the summer of 2016.

Agard scored 14 goals in his debut season at Stadium MK, while he could only manage eight in the last campaign as the Buckinghamshire outfit were relegated from League One.   

Before this spell with MK Dons, the 29-year old racked up appearances in all four of the top divisions in the English Pyramid. He made his Premier League debut for Everton on 12th December 2009 at Stamford Bridge as the Toffees played out a 3-3 draw with Chelsea.

That was his solitary appearance in the top flight, however, and after a further five appearances with the club and loan spells with Peterborough United and Kilmarnock, Agard joined Yeovil Town in League One.

A misfiring debut season saw him released by the Huish Park outfit, but he found his best goal scoring form at Rotherham United in the three years he spent with the Millers, netting an impressive 26 goals from 54 appearances in 2013/14.

He won back to back promotions with Rotherham as they ascended from League Two to the Championship, then he plied his trade for two seasons with Bristol City – again winning promotion – before joining MK Dons.


Manager – Paul Tisdale


One of the most experienced managers at this level, Paul Tisdale has already got the club accustomed to his excellent style of play and the results are following suit for the Buckinghamshire outfit.

It’s always difficult to live up to such high expectations when so much pressure is exerted onto you from outside sources, but Tisdale has got his players motivated and they are currently where they should be in the table if the pre-season betting odds were anything to go by.

Tisdale has only lost six matches from 27 since taking the hotseat in Buckinghamshire over the summer, and MK Dons are the only side to be unbeaten at home in League Two at this stage of the season – and the Dons have only lost once at Stadium MK across all competitions.

This is just the third spell of his managerial career having spent a couple of seasons at Team Bath from 2000, the side affiliated to the University of Bath. Tisdale led the club to four promotions, alongside the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup in 2002/03 – becoming the first university side since 1881 to enter the competition.

His glittering success with the club alerted the attentions of Exeter City and Tisdale has to take enormous credit for his loyalty shown towards a club he managed for almost 12 years.

Starting in the Conference, the 45-year old led them to the play-off final in his first season although they lost to Morecambe, but he sent them back to Wembley in the following season and this time they secured promotion with a 1-0 victory over Cambridge United.  

Tisdale then cemented his place as one of Exeter City's most successful managers by guiding the club to second place in League Two during their first season back in the Football League, becoming the first Grecians manager to win successive promotions.

Three years were spent in the third-tier before relegation, with Exeter coming agonisingly close to a return in the past two seasons – although they lost in the play-off final on both occasions against Blackpool and Coventry City respectively.

In early May 2018 and following Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal, Tisdale became the longest serving manager in the Football League – but he only kept that tag for a few weeks before joining MK Dons on 6th June 2018.


Previous Meeting

Newport County AFC have only met MK Dons on one previous occasion.

It came in the first-round of the Carabao Cup and remains the first of only two occasions that the Exiles have played at home in the competition since promotion back into the Football League in 2013.

The game itself came on 9th August 2016 and it couldn’t have started any better for County as Marlon Jackson completed a stunning passing move to put the Exiles a goal up at half-time.

Mark Randall’s penalty early in the second-half put County in cruise control but things appeared to unravel from that moment for Warren Feeney’s side.

Dean Bowditch dispatched his spot-kick to reduce the deficit on 63 minutes, before Ben Tilney equalised with a stunning long-range effort.

That set the stage for Bowditch to break County hearts when converting a cross at the beginning of stoppage time – that comeback earning the Dons a trip to Reading in the second-round, a tie they lost on penalties following a 2-2 draw.

Watch the match highlights.



Referee: Nicholas Kinseley

Assistant Referee 1: Marvyn Amphlett

Assistant Referee 2: Ian Smedley

Fourth Official: Christopher Husband

Kinseley is currently embarking on his fourth full season as a Football League referee having officiated his first game in League Two on 17th January 2015 as Exeter City won a five-goal thriller away at Mansfield Town.

He has refereed 13 games so far this season, giving out 37 yellow cards and two red cards, including three yellows and one red on the opening day of the season as Wycombe Wanderers and Blackpool played out a 0-0 draw.

Only one game has passed this season without Kinseley going to his pocket – Oldham Athletic’s comfortable away victory over Grimsby Town on 15th September 2018.

His league high number of yellow cards stands at six during AFC Wimbledon’s away victory over Gillingham, whilst the other red card brandished this season went to ex-Sunderland defender Michael Turner during Southend United’s home defeat to Blackpool.

Those statistics follow on from refereeing a total of 29 matches across all competitions in the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Kinseley gave out 124 yellow cards and six red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.


County Connection

Kinseley has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on seven previous occasions in League Two and the Conference. The Exiles have a mixed bag of results from the previous matches, having won three, drawn once and lost the other three.

Last season, Kinseley only officiated one match involving the Exiles, but it was a game in which they ensured a best start to a Football League season since 1982 with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over struggling Yeovil Town on 7th October 2017. Joss Labadie and Matty Dolan both booked.

In 2016/17, Kinseley took charge of two County fixtures, starting with the 2-1 home defeat to Cambridge United on 24th September 2016. Reece Grego-Cox, Ben Tozer, and Rhys Healey all booked for County during the game.

The other game that campaign saw the Exiles again suffer defeat as they fell to a 3-1 reverse at Crawley Town on 17th December 2016. Remarkably, County received eight of the 13 yellow cards awarded in total – Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Scot Bennett, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ben Tozer, Joss Labadie, Marlon Jackson, Rhys Healey and Josh O’Hanlon all cautioned.  

In the 2015/16 season, a further three County games were presided over by Kinseley, including the 2-2 draw in the opening home game of the season against Stevenage on 15th August 2015. No bookings for the Exiles.

Next comes arguably the highlight result of the season as the Exiles stormed to a 4-1 away victory against Bristol Rovers on 24th October 2015. Medi Elito received a yellow card at the Memorial Ground.  

The final game that campaign incidentally came in the final home fixture when Notts County secured a 1-0 victory at Rodney Parade on 30th April 2016. Dean Morgan booked.

In County’s promotion campaign of 2012/13, Kinseley officiated a further two fixtures including when Jamille Matt scored an all-headed hat-trick against the Exiles in a 3-2 victory for Kidderminster Harriers on 8th December 2012. No bookings.

Kinseley was also the man in charge as County booked themselves a place at Wembley with a 1-0 play-off semi-final victory over Grimsby Town on 18th April 2013.


Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)

Cambridge United vs Yeovil Town

Carlisle United vs Colchester United

Exeter City vs Crewe Alexandra

Forest Green Rovers vs Mansfield Town

Grimsby Town vs Swindon Town

Lincoln City vs Morecambe

Macclesfield Town vs Crawley Town

Northampton Town vs Stevenage

Notts County vs Tranmere Rovers

Oldham Athletic vs Bury FC

Port Vale vs Cheltenham Town


Can’t make the match?

You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the Club’s official Facebook, Snapchat (OfficialExiles) and Instagram pages.

Don’t forget – if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. Commentary by Charlie Brown and Richard Shepherd can also be found at the Match Centre from 2.45pm.

An on-the-whistle match report of this match will be provided on the club website upon the end of the game. Michael Flynn’s post-match analysis will appear on the website the day after the game, while you can watch all of Flynn’s post-match press conference as-well as two County players by subscribing to #iFollowExiles.