MK Dons v Huddersfield
A 1-0 win over Wolves at the weekend was Town’s seventh win in 16 league matches under the German head coach, and like five of the previous six, they kept a clean sheet alongside it (the exception being a stoppage time consolation for Preston when they were already 3-0 down). Ignore the fact that Huddersfield are 15th. Under Wagner, they are top-six material.
MK Dons have enjoyed a mini-revival since the January window, making alterations to the backline and sitting off the opposition more, conceding just once in three tough matches against Cardiff (away), Middlesbrough (home) and Derby (away). But having adapted to conform with the counter-attacking culture of the league, they might be ill-prepared to cope with the intensity of Huddersfield’s approach.
Given the stats, it’s tempting to back Town to win to nil at 29/10. They’ve now scored the first goal in 11 out of 18 matches (all competitions) and Milton Keynes have an awful record when conceding first: W0 D1 L17 F7 A38. But let’s be greedy and back Huddersfield to win 2-0 at 12/1 instead. All three away wins under Wagner have been achieved by this scoreline and the Dons have been on the wrong end of it six times, three at home.
Bury v Barnsley
If anyone thought Johnson’s departure to Bristol City was going to derail a promising season, they should probably think again. The legacy is a talented collection of players - mostly early to mid 20s - who should really be pushing for promotion and caretaker Paul Heckinbottom seems to be well in-tune with the team and its capabilities.
Bury’s season, after their demoralising trip across the Pennines, went from bad to worse with a 6-0 defeat to Coventry next time out and though they did respond with grit to eke out a 1-0 win over Sheffield United a few days later, we should take Saturday’s 5-2 home success over rock-bottom Colchester with a pinch of salt.
If anything, the early 2-0 deficit prior to Tom Eastman’s red card is of greater significance as an indicator of how brittle their confidence is. Barnsley had to wait 81 minutes to break the deadlock against Doncaster on Saturday but never seemed to doubt that they would. On the back of eight wins in nine league outings, and with a trip to Wembley in the offing, the Tykes couldn’t be more comfortable in their own skin.