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12 August 2023 Venue Stadium MK Attendance

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Tranmere Rovers

All you need to know ahead of today's Sky Bet League Two fixture at Stadium MK...

12 August 2023

MK Dons begin their home Sky Bet League Two campaign this afternoon when they take on Tranmere Rovers at Stadium MK.

Buoyed by their opening-day success at Wrexham, Graham Alexander’s men will be out to make it back-to-back league victories to start the 2023/24 campaign – a feat they last achieved in 2018/19, the last time they were at this level.

Nobody scored more goals in matchday one of the new League Two season than the Dons, who will be hoping they can transfer that firepower into today’s encounter as they look to start off on the right foot at Stadium MK – a venue which saw only four home league triumphs last term.

Kick-off is at 3pm.

Tranmere Rovers kicked off their third successive season in Sky Bet League Two last weekend with defeat at home to Barrow.

The Lilywhites finished 12th in 2022/23 – a campaign during which they parted ways with long-serving manager Micky Mellon. Ian Dawes replaced him on a temporary basis from March before being handed the job on a full-time basis ahead of this season.


Six new faces have arrived at Prenton Park this summer, including experienced strikers Kristian Dennis and Luke Norris as well as club legend Connor Jennings, returning to Merseyside after three years away.

Norris was amongst the scorers in midweek as Tranmere upset League One opposition in the Carabao Cup – a result which provides a glimpse at the quality of Dawes’ squad for the 2023/24 season.

MK Dons were beaten 2-0 by Wycombe Wanderers in midweek, exiting the Carabao Cup at the Round One stage.

Graham Alexander’s men had the better of the first half, going close on a number of occasions. Warren O’Hora was twice denied by the goalkeeper while Jonathan Leko, Alex Gilbey and Mo Eisa also went threatened an opener – the latter hitting the crossbar with a 35-yard strike.

Wycombe, though, broke the deadlock on 73 minutes through substitute Brandon Hanlan, who converted from close range. Chris Forino then headed in a second for the Chairboys, who progressed to Round Two at the Dons’ expense.

Tranmere Rovers pulled off a Carabao Cup upset on Tuesday evening, beating Barnsley on penalties to secure their place in the second round.

Tranmere went in front on 24 minutes, rewarded for a positive start with Luke Norris’ goal from a well-worked free-kick. Barnsley, however, equalised in first-half stoppage-time courtesy of Herbie Kane.

Sam Taylor restored Rovers’ lead with a finish from the edge of the area, only for Barnsley to, again, strike in stoppage-time to send the tie to penalties. Tranmere, ultimately, held their nerve to secure a 7-6 shoot-out success, with Jack Shepherd missing the decisive spot-kick.

Graham Alexander: “The task on Saturday will be as tough as it was last Saturday, for different reasons. If we think the level of opposition will change drastically each week, then we’re wrong.

“We have to be at our best every single week and that’s why I like to keep the focus on us and what we can do. I know what we are capable of, regardless of who we are playing against, and we want to start off our league campaign here with a win.”

Ian Dawes: “MK Dons play a back three like Barrow did, but they won’t play it in the same style as Barrow did. The spaces are in different places, and they’ll be up and at them a bit more, like Graham Alexander’s teams are, credit to them.

“It will be a challenge, a different type of challenge, but every game is, it’s just important that we get our organisation right out of possession and our patterns of play that will hurt them when we’re in possession of the ball, and ultimately it’s about getting a result.”

MK Dons welcomed Conor Grant back into the matchday squad on Tuesday evening – his first appearance all summer owing to an injury suffered early on in pre-season. Graham Alexander told the media on Wednesday that Grant is still short of fitness after his lay-off.

Meanwhile, Dean Lewington is still ‘a couple of weeks’ away from returning to training. Matthew Dennis is further along in his rehabilitation but, like Grant, won’t be rushed back into action after missing several weeks of pre-season training.

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Kane Hemmings returned to action for Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday evening and will, once again, be in contention this afternoon.

Luke Norris and Sam Taylor both scored in midweek after being handed starts by manager Ian Dawes. They will be pushing for a place in the XI today along with summer recruit Kristian Dennis.


Sunny Gill will run the rule over this afternoon’s affair at Stadium MK.

The third-year EFL official has already taken charge of two matches this season, producing a total of 11 yellow cards. He has yet to show his red card or award a penalty.

sunny gill.jpg

Today will be only the second time he has refereed MK Dons, following on from the Emirates FA Cup tie with Portsmouth back in November last year. That afternoon he booked two Dons players and awarded Pompey two penalties.

His assistant referees are Steven Plane and Andrew Hickman while the fourth official is Declan O’Shea.

MK Dons wins: 10
MK Dons wins at Stadium MK: 5
Last MK Dons win: 3-0, 16 Mar 2013 (Stadium MK)
Biggest MK Dons win: 3-0, 16 Mar 2013 (Stadium MK); 3-0, 9 Apr 2012 (Stadium MK)

Draws: 2
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
Last draw: 1-1, 29 Sep 2018 (Stadium MK)

Tranmere Rovers wins: 7
Tranmere Rovers wins at Stadium MK: 2
Last Tranmere Rovers win: 3-1, 2 Nov 2019 (Stadium MK)
Biggest Tranmere Rovers win: 4-2, 30 Oct 2010 (Prenton Park)

AFC Wimbledon v Wrexham
Barrow v Sutton United
Bradford City v Colchester United
Gillingham v Accrington Stanley
Harrogate Town v Forest Green Rovers
Mansfield Town v Morecambe
Newport County v Doncaster Rovers
Notts County v Grimsby Town
Salford City v Crawley Town
Swindon Town v Crewe Alexandra
Walsall v Stockport County

Tickets will be available to buy right up until kick-off from the Box Office, priced from £26 adults, £20 over-65s and under-25s, £8 under-21s and £5 under-14s, while under-7s can watch from as little as £3. To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933.

Can't make the game? Supporters can LISTEN to this fixture live on iFollow MK Dons for £2.50 - to purchase an Audio Match Pass CLICK HERE!

Live text updates will also be provided on the Match Centre as well as Twitter, while a full report will be available to read shortly after the full-time whistle. Post-match reaction and highlights will follow after.

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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 1-0 Tranmere Rovers

Mo Eisa's goal makes it two wins from two for Graham Alexander's men...

12 August 2023

MK Dons made it back-to-back victories to start their Sky Bet League Two season courtesy of a 1-0 triumph over Tranmere Rovers at Stadium MK.

In their home league opener, Mo Eisa’s goal proved the difference for Graham Alexander’s men, who kept their visitors at pay to clinch their first clean-sheet of the campaign.

Head Coach Alexander reverted back to the starting XI which beat Wrexham 5-3 on opening day, making it two changes from the midweek Carabao Cup tie with Wycombe Wanderers – Tommy Smith and Ethan Robson replacing Brooklyn Ilunga and Ashley Hunter.

A confident start by MK Dons saw them work the first shooting chance of the game after three minutes – a 20-yard try by Jonathan Leko which flew wide of the target. Moments later, Leko was forced to leave the pitch for treatment and, while on the sidelines, he watched on as his side took the lead with their next opportunity.

The goal came from a free-kick, awarded for a trip on Daniel Harvie midway inside the Tranmere half. Alex Gilbey took the set-piece and his teasing in-swinging delivery was met by the head of EISA, who was able to glance the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Luke McGee and into the bottom corner. 1-0.

The visitors responded by having their first effort on goal but Kieron Morris’ stinging drive was parried away by Craig MacGillivray. Soon after, Alexander’s men were back inside the Tranmere penalty area with Cameron Norman, whose low cross into the six-yard area was blocked by a defender.

Eisa almost found himself in on goal again with a quarter of an hour played, pouncing on a missed defensive header, though unable to poke the ball past McGee, who made himself big and was able to get a crucial hand to the ball to intercept.

A Gilbey free-kick, in similar position to wear he assisted the opening goal, caused havoc for the Rovers defence again on 25 minutes but they were able to turn this delivery behind for a corner. From that corner, Tucker headed over from a Robson cross.

Harvie surged forward with a little less than half an hour on the clock and couldn’t resist the urge to try his luck when space opened up, 25 yards from goal. His effort, though, was blocked by a defender.

The Scot was the target of Leko’s through pass a minute later - after a neat one-two between him and Eisa on the edge of the area, Leko’s ball towards an unmarked Harvie was cut out by a defender.

Harvie was having an eventful couple of minutes, as shortly after that, he pushed forward to the far post and met a deep cross in by Gilbey. Unfortunately, with the angle tight, the defender wasn’t able to trouble the target with his header.

Tranmere offered a glimpse at their threat with seven minutes to play in the first half, though Harvey Saunders’ long-range effort was never troubling MacGillivray, who watched the forward’s effort sail over his crossbar.

Five minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the first half and in the second of those, Norman and Harvie went close to connecting but the former’s cross was just a little too high for the latter coming in at the far post.

Two minutes later, Norman teed up Robson on the edge of the D. The MK Dons number 17 took a touch to create space for a shot but his low effort was still blocked by a Tranmere man. Leko couldn’t pick up the loose ball.

Tranmere made a triple change at the break and started brightly with their new additions Tucker was forced into a meaty challenge to prevent Saunders from being able to test MacGillivray. The Dons then dealt with the resulting corner.

In response, Leko managed to find room for a cross into the Rovers box but the ball in was a little behind both Eisa and Robson. The end-to-end nature of the early second-half proceedings continued for several minutes, with Tranmere the next to threaten – Tommy Smith in the way of a strike from Tom Davies, before Jordan Turnbull headed over from a corner.

On 55 minutes, Norman swung in a cross which was, again, targeted for Harvie, though a Rovers defender did well to prevent the MK Dons man from getting a head to it. At the opposite end, Harvie did enough to deny Saunders, who was looking to meet Luke Norris’ flick-on at the far post.

Tranmere had a terrific opportunity to level the scores with 63 minutes played but substitute Connor Jennings failed to hit the target with his header, despite his positioning in the centre of the penalty area, 10 yards from goal. Alexander went to his bench moments later, replacing Leko with Ashley Hunter in attack.

The threat from the visiting side continued and Smith did well to keep Taylor from troubling MacGillivray following a deep cross in from the left. MacGillivray was forced into action from another cross soon after – this one he got up well to and claimed.

A stunning sliding block from Smith, inside his own penalty area, stopped another attempt on goal from Rovers. The Dons then had the woodwork to thank for keeping their lead intact as Norris’ close-range effort on 74 minutes crashed against the crossbar. A follow-up header then bounced just wide as Stadium MK held its collective breath.

With 10 minutes to play, MacGillivray produced an excellent save to divert Norris’ powerful effort wide of his post. The Dons were able to counter from the resulting corner, but Eisa saw his left-footed shot saved by the feet of McGee.

That was Eisa’s final involvement as he was replaced by Phoenix Scholtz, who came on for his home league debut. He was deployed in advanced position, combining with Hunter to provide some fresh legs in the attacking third.

Six minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 90. MacGillivray was called into action inside the first of those six minutes, though it was a comfortable save to keep out Norris’ header.

That was the closest Tranmere went to troubling the scoreline late, even despite a late corner which saw goalkeeper McGee come up from the back. The Dons held on for the clean-sheet, and more importantly, the three points, maintain their perfect start to the new league season.

MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, O’Hora, Williams, Leko (Hunter 64), Gilbey, Eisa (Scholtz 85), Smith, Robson, Harvie.

Subs: Harness, Holland, Dean, Ilunga, Devoy.

Goal: Eisa (7)

Booked: Eisa, MacGillivray

Tranmere Rovers: McGee, Leake, Davies, Turnbull, Morris, Hendry, Norris, Hawkes (Jennings 46), Saunders (Taylor 59), Lewis (Dennis 46), McAlear (O’Connor 46).

Subs: Murphy, Walker, Yarney.

Booked: Davies

Referee: S Gill

Attendance: 5,831 (819 away)

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