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Monday, 21 January, 2019

New boss Paul Tisdale can make perfect start at MK Dons

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Experienced League Two manager Paul Tisdale has left Exeter for MK Dons
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3pm Saturday

Oldham v MK Dons
Forget Christmas, this really is the most wonderful time of the year for most football fans.

The start of a new season brings fresh hope to all, particularly in the EFL where nothing is impossible and even rank outsiders can dream of glory.

Accrington, with a budget that ranked 23rd out of 24 in Sky Bet League Two last season and fuelled by a post-match diet of McDonald's, were lovin' it as they romped to the title at 33-1, while Shrewsbury finished third in League One at 150-1.

No doubt as summer turns to autumn the discontent will begin with fans criticising managers who in turn accuse referees of losing them matches, all playing the blame game when more often than not football simply produces short-term random results.

One owner told me last season the reason for their poor form was the amount of roadworks on the M6 which caused lengthy traffic jams and a subsequent injury crisis. 

That excuse wore thin when they started boarding the train at a greater cost for away games and still ended up getting relegated but even demoted teams are full of cheer in August.

A lower division, in theory at least, brings more chance of winning and ultimately that taste of victory is as sweet for Morecambe in League Two as it is Manchester City in the Premier League.

Two teams relegated last season meet in Sky Bet League Two at Boundary Park and MK Dons look far better equipped than Oldham to bounce back immediately.

Few outside Milton Keynes have shed a tear at the Dons' demise- they have dropped two divisions in three years - and they made a complete mess of last season under Robbie Neilson before novice Dan Micciche finished off the job of relegating a team who had begun the campaign with promotion ambitions.

Owner Pete Winkelman appears to have got his managerial appointment right this time with Exeter's long-serving boss Paul Tisdale finally departing Devon for a crack at a club with a bigger budget.

Robbie Simpson, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Ryan Harley have followed Tisdale from Exeter and other signings include centre-backs Mathieu Baudry and Baily Cargill.

Things are tougher for Oldham, who impressed at times in League One last season, particularly when their loan stars Eoin Doyle and Kean Bryan were on board and Jack Byrne was pulling the strings in midfield under Richie Wellens.

New boss Frankie Bunn will get patience from the supporters due to his legendary status at the Latics but his squad is short on quality at the moment with Byrne reportedly suspended and centre-back Anthony Gerrard sacked following disciplinary issues.

Ryan McLaughlin left to join Blackpool this week and midfielder Ousmane Fane broke his leg last week, while Jose Baxter is lacking fitness having missed most of pre-season after signing from Everton.

MK Dons draw no bet
2pts 10-11 general

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Southend v Doncaster
It has been suggested that Southend could be lively League One outsiders after finishing last season strongly once Chris Powell replaced Phil Brown at Roots Hall and the Shrimpers can begin with a win at home to Doncaster.

Southend, a younger side following the arrivals of Harry Lennon, Timothee Dieng, Sam Mantom, Sam Barratt, Luke Hyam and Tom Hopper, have showed ambition by keeping ace goalkeeper Mike Oxley and striker Simon Cox at the club despite offers elsewhere.

Darren Ferguson quit Doncaster in May, reportedly over budget concerns, and his replacement Grant McCann has much to prove following a disappointing period as Peterborough manager.

1pt 11-8 bet365

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Shrewsbury v Bradford
Shrewsbury's playoff final defeat at the hands of Rotherham seemed likely to start an exodus and that has been the case.

Manager Paul Hurst departed for Ipswich and successful loanees Dean Henderson and Ben Godfrey have gone, along with Alex Rodman, skipper Abu Ogogo and Junior Brown.

To make life even more dfficult, Hurst is trying to buy two of their stars from last season - Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala - who have handed in transfer requests and won't be considered for the opener with Bradford.

Hurst's replacement, John Askey, is also suspended after kicking a puddle at a fourth official when in charge of Macclesfield last season.

Bradford have sold star striker Charlie Wyke to Sunderland but replaced him with Doyle and George Miller, who scored 23 in 49 between them in League One last season. Jack Payne is also an excellent loan signing from Huddersfield.

Bradford +0.25 on Asian handicap
1pt 5-6 188Bet

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Plays of the day

Southend 11-8
Five of last season's top six - Wigan, Blackburn, Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Charlton - were beaten at Roots Hall last season and Doncaster could be next on Southend's home hitlist.

Cheltenham Evs
Only Billy Kee (25) scored more times than 23-goal Mohamed Eisa last season and Cheltenham may struggle to replace their departed deadly striker who is now at Bristol City.

Preston 10-11, Southend 11-8, Mansfield Evs bet365

Both teams to score
Games at Barnsley 8-11, Grimsby 4-5, Stevenage 4-5 Betfair

Thought for the week

At 5pm on Thursday Premier League clubs will no longer be able to sign players for their squads after 14 of the 20 teams voted to close the window earlier than the rest of Europe.

It's utter madness that they have done this and it makes no sense to handicap yourselves in such a way, spreading panic around the league in what has been a shortened summer due to the World Cup.

This is the Premier League's version of Brexit - maybe they need another vote.

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Few outside Milton Keynes have shed a tear at the Dons demise, dropping two divisions in three years
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