All Rhodes lead to a Huddersfield defeat
MK Dons v Huddersfield | League 1 Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg
Saturday 12:30 - live on Sky Sports 1
By virtue of finishing fourth and fifth respectively in this year's League One final standings, MK Dons and Huddersfield will do battle twice more over the next seven days, with the winner heading to Wembley and the Play-Off Final.
The reward for ending the campaign one point and one place ahead of their hosts, was Huddersfield earning home advantage for the second-leg of this semi-final, but the advantage will count for nothing if MK Dons can earn a decent lead to take with them to the Galpharm.
After going top with seven wins from their first eight games it looked as though MK Dons could go on and gain an automatic promotion spot, but couldn't quite hang on. However, considering the strength of the rival clubs, finishing fifth is still an excellent achievement. Karl Robinson's side ended the regular season with a defeat, failing to close on a five-match winning sequence when beaten at home to Walsall on the last day. This is the Dons' fourth play-off campaign and second in successive seasons. All three previous attempts ended at the semi-final stage. The hosts can be backed at 5/4 to triumph in 90- minutes at Stadium MK and are 5/6 to qualify through to Wembley.
Both matches between these two teams in the regular season resulted in 1-1 draws. MK Dons' keeper David Martin was the hero here back in September, saving a Lee Novak penalty late on to rescue a point for his team. The draw in this first-leg is priced at 21/10 and a 1-1 scoreline is 6/1 to be repeated for a third time.
After finishing third in League 1 last season, and having been in the play-offs for the previous two years, Huddersfield were hoping for automatic promotion this time around. They were also hot favourites for the title so a play-off place is clearly seen as an underperformance. Defeats at home to both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday really put an end to any lingering hopes of automatic promotion this campaign. In the end, they finished fourth, 12 points short of second placed Wednesday. The Terriers were struggling for form a few games ago but Simon Grayson's men have perked up in the last three games with two wins and a draw but the pressure was off for the last two as their play-off berth was secure. Last season's Play-Off Final defeat to Peterborough still hurts the Galpharm faithful and they will be hopeful, more so than last season's confident approach, that they can earn promotion to English football's second tier. The Yorkshiremen are priced at 12/5 to win in 90 minutes against MK Dons and 5/6 to qualify to the final.
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson is hoping to have defender Gary MacKenzie back following an illness but he could be without Midfielder Luke Chadwick who picked up a knock against Walsall so may not feature and defender Mathias Doumbe has not played since March.Former Leeds United and England forward Alan Smith is likely to start behind a front two of Dean Bowditch and Charlie MacDonald.
Jordan Rhodes, Huddersfield's hotshot with goals in 43 appearances this season, is fit to lead the line for his team after being rested for the best part of two games recently.Alan Lee (knee) has been rested for the previous two games with the play-offs in mind and will be back in contention. Returning loanees Nathan Clarke, Liam Ridehalgh and Matt Crooks are also in the frame.