Good evening everyone and welcome back as we take on MK Dons in the final group game of the Checkatrade Trophy. After a fantastic start where we won 6-2 at Stevenage in the first match, we then drew with Brighton’s under-21 side in the second game so it gives us an excellent chance of progressing. We have four points but if you look at the table there are so many different permutations and one thing we do know is never to take anything for granted in cup football, so we're just focused on winning tonight's game.
That point was hammered home at Port Vale on Friday night. We had talked a lot about the way they played and how direct the game would be, but we got caught twice from crosses and headers from close range and that was very frustrating for all of us. You have to match the intensity and the work rate of your opponents in any game, not just in the cups, and although we had a lot of the possession, for once we didn’t create enough chance for our forwards.
We headed into the game with a clear target of enjoying a good FA Cup run but you cannot dwell on what might have been. Instead you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and go again with your whole focus being on stepping up your performances. We are in a good position in the league after one third of the games but now we have to really concentrate over the next few weeks, not satisfy ourselves, and go on and improve. We have set ourselves high standards and have to be up to the challenge and push ourselves day in, day out to get the results we're looking for.
Our opponents tonight will be thinking much the same thing. I have a lot of time for MK Dons and the way they approach the game. They are a highly ambitious club and, as we saw in the league game at their stadium this season, these are two very good sides that play attractive, attacking football. That match was very even but we want to put in an even better performance tonight.
There are a couple of knocks and bruises from Friday night. We trained over the weekend and will just wait and see how it goes; Mike Williamson just felt something tighten during the game and Ricardinho is coming back from a calf problem. Hopefully both of them will be available to add their experience to the squad, although we do have plenty of players pressing for places.
Whoever plays, we will be looking for a positive reaction after two defeats on the road. We need to learn from those games, stick together, work hard and get back to playing the vibrant energetic football that saw us pick up a good number of points in what was a fine month of October.
Finally, as always, a thank you to the fans who have travelled to Fleetwood and Port Vale. Those are not easy journeys and we really appreciate the fantastic effort you always make to get behind us. Hopefully you leave the ground smiling tonight.
You can read the full programme online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc