MK Dons headline Neots pre-season schedule

MILTON Keynes Dons will open St Neots Town’s pre-season programme on July 17 when they become the first team to play at the Hunts Post Community Stadium.

MILTON Keynes Dons will open St Neots Town’s pre-season programme on July 17 when they become the first team to play at the Hunts Post Community Stadium.

The Dons will visit the Saints as the first of eight games lined up to ensure St Neots Town hit the ground running in the UCL Premier Division.

The full list includes two clubs who won promotion last season, and a derby fixture against UCL Division One neighbours Eynesbury Rovers.

Saints chairman John Delaney said the fixture line-up was a change of direction for the club.

“It’s a different approach for us this year, and it’s all geared to making sure we are as prepared as possible for the start of the new season,” he said.

“Last year we had the prestige friendlies against Tottenham, Luton and Peterborough, which were fantastic, but these games are intended to give us a real test. The clubs we will be playing are going to be a real challenge for the team, and will ensure we are ready to go next year.”

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After working together on Milton Keynes’ successful application to be a World Cup 2018 host city, the two clubs will come face to face for the first time in the stand-out friendly of the fixture list.

World Cup finalist and European Cup winner Dietmar Hamann could make his debut for the Dons in the fixture after �signing on as player-coach in the close season.

Next up will be Zamaretto Premier champions Farnborough Town, who won their league by five points last season and are preparing for life in the Blue Square Conference South.

With an average attendance of more than 800 in 2009-10, they will be expected to bring vocal support despite the midweek scheduling of the fixture on Tuesday, July 20.

Saints will field two sides on Saturday, July 24, when they face Bedford Sports at home and send a side to play at Arlesey Town.

The game against Arlesey, who finished ninth in last year’s Zamaretto Midland division, should provide the Saints with their best chance of a pre-season victory.

Ryman North League runners-up Concord Rangers from Canvey Island are the visitors to the Hunts Post Community Stadium on Tuesday, July 27, and will be looking to continue the form that took them to promotion. Another Saints team will also travel to face neighbours Great Paxton on the same day.

Eynesbury Rovers, narrowly pipped for promotion to the UCL Premier Division last year, will be the opponents on Saturday, July 31, with a competitive match guaranteed.

“That’s going to be a tasty local derby, and they are always spicy affairs,” said Delaney. “The last time we met was in the Senior Cup two seasons ago when we lost 2-0 at Hall Road.

“Like us, Eynesbury will be expecting to be challenging for promotion next May. This will be a real local derby so we are anticipating another good crowd.”

On Tuesday, August 3, Braintree Town will be the final test for the Saints before the UCL season gets underway. The Blue Square Conference South team finished in seventh position last year, and have appointed a new management team for next year.