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01 January 2020 Venue Stadium mk Attendance

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Preview: Bristol Rovers

All you need to know ahead of today's Sky Bet League One clash...

1 January 2020

MK Dons welcome Bristol Rovers to Stadium MK this afternoon, looking to kick-off 2020 by securing their third straight home success.

Russell Martin’s men made it back-to-back Stadium MK wins on Sunday courtesy of a 3-1 victory over in-form Portsmouth, backing up their 1-0 triumph against Oxford United earlier in the month.

Those two wins, along with points at Doncaster Rovers and Southend United in December, have the Dons ranked eighth in the current Sky Bet League One form table over the last five matches.

The recent run has also edged the Dons to closer to moving out of the bottom three - they are behind 21st place Tranmere Rovers on goal difference while just two points separate them and 18th heading into today's fixtures.

It’s not just results that have picked up but also their performances in front of goal. Only three other sides in Sky Bet League One have scored more than Martin’s side (8) over the last five games.

The Dons will be looking to maintain both their goalscoring and their overall form as they begin 2020. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Bristol Rovers sit one place above MK Dons in the form table heading into this bout at Stadium MK. The Gas have picked up eight points in their last five matches and currently lie seventh in the Sky Bet League One table.

They did, however, see manager Graham Coughlan depart for Mansfield Town last month. He has been replaced by Ben Garner, who is in search of his first victory since taking the reins at the Memorial Stadium.

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Away from home, Rovers have been extremely impressive. Their points return of 16 from 10 road matches is tied for the third-best total in the division. They are unbeaten in four on their travels, winning three of those games.

In terms of goals, former MK Dons loanee Jonson Clarke-Harris currently leads the way with nine in only 14 appearances. Tyler Smith and Abu Ogogo have each contributed three goals while Tom Nichols and Alex Rodman are also threats.

MK Dons made it back-to-back home victories courtesy of a 3-1 win over Portsmouth at Stadium MK.

Rhys Healey opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games before Conor McGrandles doubled the lead with a fantastic curling effort just before half-time.

Alex Gilbey added a third with a delicate chip late on to seal the points, even despite Ronan Curtis’ stoppage-time consolation.

Bristol Rovers played out a goalless draw with Fleetwood Town as Ben Garner picked up his first point as Gas boss.

Paddy Madden missed a good early chance for the hosts before Ed Upson saw a well-hit strikes saved superbly by the Fleetwood goalkeeper.

Controversy struck midway through the second half when Ched Evans had a goal chalked off for offside – a decision which led to the dismissal of Cod Army manager Joey Barton for his reaction. Evans also hit the woodwork late, as both sides were forced to share the spoils.

Russell Martin: “We're trying to build something that keeps us up and something we can sustain. We need short term success, but I've got confidence in the lads.

"We now need to back it up with another performance because if we go and win and put in another performance against Bristol Rovers, then it turns the Southend point into a really good one. We've lost one in five now, but from where we were to where we are, the difference is huge.

Ed Upson: “We'll study MK Dons over the next few days and do our homework – we’ll be ready.”

“I can’t wait to get back to our home pitch. At home, our performances have been really good and our last two results have been good too. I’d like to think that it will be a game that will suit us better than the last two did.”

Russell Martin revealed no fresh injury concerns for MK Dons in his post-match press conference on Sunday.

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Rhys Healey made it through 68 minutes in his first start for three months while fellow returning striker Sam Nombe added more minutes to his bank off the bench.

That means Jordan Moore-Taylor (knee) remains Martin’s only injury doubt for the visit of Bristol Rovers.

Bristol Rovers, themselves, could be without eight first-team players for today's match.

Defenders Mark Little, Tom Davies and Tareiq-Holmes Dennis are sidelined along with midfielders Abu Ogogo and Ollie Clarke, and striker Tyler Smith.

Sam Purkiss will take charge of today's affair at Stadium MK.

This is Purkiss’ first season in the EFL and Wednesday will be the second time he has refereed the Dons this season. His first came in the 3-0 win over Stevenage in the Trophy.

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So far this season, the rookie has shown 58 yellow cards and is yet to dismiss someone - he has also awarded two penalties.

Marc Wilson and Oliver Jackson are the assistant referees while Tom Reeves is the fourth official.

Dons wins: 6
Dons wins at Stadium MK: 4
Last Dons win: 1-2, 2 Feb 2011 (Memorial Stadium)
Biggest Dons win: 2-0, 19 Aug 2006/1 Jan 2011 (Stadium MK)

Draws: 3
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
Last draw: 0-0, 19 Nov 2016 (Memorial Stadium)

Bristol Rovers wins: 4
Bristol Rovers wins at Stadium MK: 1
Last Bristol Rovers win: 1-0, 12 Oct 2019 (Memorial Stadium)
Biggest Bristol Rovers win: 2-0, 28 Oct 2017 (Memorial Stadium)

Dons win: 6/4
Draw: 12/5
Bristol Rovers win: 15/8

Click HERE for more Sky Bet odds!

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Lincoln City v Peterborough United
Rotherham United v Blackpool
Tranmere Rovers v Coventry City
Wycombe Wanderers v Ipswich Town

Season Ticket holders can bring an adult friend to MK Dons' New Year's Day clash with Bristol Rovers for just £10, or purchase an additional under-18s ticket for only £1.

General sale tickets, meanwhile, are priced at £22 adults, £17 seniors and £7 under-18s while under-12s go FREE with an accompanying adult. Supporters can upgrade to premium seats in the East Centre for a £5 premium while an upgrade to clubRed is just £10 more.

To book tickets click HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 0333 200 5343.

Can't make the game? Supporters will be able to watch this match on iFollow MK Dons for just £10 - click HERE to purchase a Video Match Pass!

You can also stay in touch with the action via’s Match Centre, which can be accessed by visiting the home page from 2pm.

There will also be full coverage on the Club’s social media channels while a full match report will be available to view on straight after the final whistle along with full reaction from Russell Martin and a player. Highlights will be available three hours after full-time.

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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 3-0 Bristol Rovers

Russell Martin's men out of the bottom three with third-straight home win...

1 January 2020

MK Dons kicked off the New Year in style, beating Bristol Rovers 3-0 at Stadium MK to move out of the bottom three in Sky Bet League One.

Rhys Healey opened the scoring in the first half with his third goal in as many games – a cool finish after an excellent turn inside the box.

Russell Martin’s men lead was doubled on the hour courtesy of a terrific solo strike from Sam Nombe before substitute Kieran Agard putting the finishing touches to a fantastic afternoon’s work late on.

The win lifts MK Dons above Tranmere Rovers and out of the relegation places in Sky Bet League One for the first time since November.

Boss Martin made one change to the side which beat Portsmouth 3-1 at Stadium MK, with Nombe replacing Joe Mason in attack – the first time Nombe and Healey had started together since they both found the net in the 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon back in September.

The two almost combined for the opening goal in the fourth minute but Healey’s low ball across the six-yard area was just in front of the sliding Nombe. Healey looked for his strike partner again just three minutes later but this time his cross was deflected behind Nombe.

Bristol Rovers were forced into an early change between the sticks due to an injury to Anssi Jaakkola. He was replaced by Jordi van Stappershoef, who soon watched his opposite number produced a superb save – Lee Nicholls getting a foot to Luke Leahy’s goal-bound effort, after he had been picked out by Jonson Clarke-Harris.

The former MK Dons loanee then went close with a diving header, but wasn’t able to connect with the ball sent in from the left. That didn’t deter Martin’s men, who went straight back on the offensive and with their next shot, they broke the deadlock.

A neat passing move down the left led to Kasumu picking out Healey inside the area. With his back to goal, the striker produced a superb turn to get away from two Rovers defenders, before cooly slotting home his third goal in as many games to open the scoring. 1-0.

Kasumu tried to go from provider to goalscorer with the Dons’ next chance but saw his long-range effort fly off target from 25 yards out. At the other end, Nichols flashed over against his namesake, as the visitors went in search of an equaliser.

Midway through the first half, Gilbey had a go from distance and wasn’t too far away with his low, right-footed effort which skidded just past the post. He produced a save out of van Stappershoef moments later with a decent tight-angled effort.

Kasumu threatened again on 33 minutes with an ambitious looping ball which almost caught out van Stappershoef – the effort, however, landed on the roof of the net, much to the relief of the Rovers stopper.

The visitors offered a reminder of their threat with eight minutes to play in the half, as Alex Rodman forced a save out of Nicholls with a header from a Liam Sercombe free-kick. The Dons countered with Gilbey, who had a curling shot deflected wide of the right upright.

Rovers went close again moments later after Nichols won possession deep in the MK Dons half. The striker crossed for Clarke-Harris but he couldn’t direct his header on target.

The Dons should have had a second goal a minute later but, following some excellent play by Nombe down the right, both Gilbey and Healey saw efforts blocked by defenders on their way through to goal.

Despite deserving to, Martin’s men weren’t able to add to their advantage in the first half. They almost did early in the second but Gilbey’s rasper from range was kept out by van Stappershoef.

The Dons had Williams to thank for denying Sercombe at the other end of the pitch – the defender, celebrating his 150th appearance for the Club, bravely getting in the way of the fierce strike. That block proved all the more crucial on the hour, as MK Dons were able to double their lead through Nombe.

The striker did it all himself, deflecting a cross-field pass from Rodman and then chasing down the loose ball. Nombe took a touch into the area and while his first effort was saved by van Stappershoef, he showed great determination and awareness to latch onto the rebound and tap home his fifth goal of the campaign. 2-0.

Martin went to the bench for the first time after goal, replacing McGrandles with Ben Reeves in midfield. He almost had an immediate impact with a free-kick that van Stappershoef had to fingertip over the crossbar at his far post.

On 67 minutes, Sercombe fired over for Bristol Rovers after being left unmarked on the edge of the area. Moments later, the Dons went agonisingly close to a third as Kasumu had a shot blocked on the line, after some terrific play by Healey down the left.

Mason entered the contest with 18 minutes to play, in place of the hard-working Gilbey. The Dons’ final change of the afternoon soon followed – Agard on for Healey in attack.

Rovers turned up the pressure as the game moved into his closing stages and Lewington was forced to head clear from under his own crossbar with Nicholls producing a save from a later corner. Any nerves, though, soon vanished as MK Dons made the game safe with six minutes to play.

Collecting the ball from Williams deep inside his own half, Houghton spotted the run of Agard and picked out him out with a terrific forward pass. The MK Dons number 14 brought the ball under control before poking past the on-rushing Rovers goalkeeper to make it 3-0.

That was game, set and match for Martin & Co, who began the New Year in style.

MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington (c), Walsh, Gilbey (Mason 73), Healey (Agard 78), McGrandles (Reeves 63), Mason, Houghton, Brittain, Kasumu

Subs: Moore, Poole, Cargill, Boateng

Goals: Healey (16), Nombe (60), Agard (84)

Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola (van Stappershoef 11), Ogogo (Hargreaves 46), Craig (c), Upson, Sercombe, Clarke-Harris, Nichols, Leahy, Kilgour, Menayese (Bennett 78), Rodman

Subs: Kelly, Russe, Tomlinson, Adeboyejo

Referee: S Purkiss

Attendance: 8,236 (1,308 away)

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