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Storylines: Bristol Rovers

17 November 2016

Club News

Storylines: Bristol Rovers

17 November 2016 details the storylines to follow heading into this weekend’s clash with Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium...

With the uncertainty surrounding the vacant managerial position at present and the Dons’ current standing in the Sky Bet League One table, it’s important the team just keep focusing on the next task which, in this instance, is Saturday’s clash in Bristol.

“We've got to go game-by-game, get three points each time and catch the teams ahead of us,” Lewington told the media this week. “We’re a lot more short-sighted now and it’s all just about the immediate challenge.

“The long-term picture has to be forgotten about because we're in the relegation zone and our first target is to get out of that.”

A victory this weekend could lift the Dons several places in the table if results go their way elsewhere, while it would also provide a welcome confidence boost to a side who are without a win in the league since October.

Despite their current league position, the Dons still boast one of the better away records in the division and they’ll be looking to reignite that form after two games without a success on the road.

The men from MK1 have totalled four wins from their seven away league fixtures as well as draw, while their tally of 13 goals scored is bettered by only three other sides.

However, following losses to Scunthorpe United and Sheffield United, they are without a triumph away from Stadium MK since October so they’ll be looking to change that trend and get back on the winning trail this weekend.

When the two sides face off this Saturday, it will be just one month and one day after the first meeting back in mid-October at Stadium MK – a short turnaround which should make for an intriguing affair.

More often than not, teams will play one another either side of the transfer window, which means changes to the line-ups and different challenges for each team to face. However, in this instance, not much has changed in terms of personal on the field so it will be interesting to see which team learnt the most from the 3-3 draw last month.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time the Dons and Bristol Rovers have played twice in such a short space of time. In the 2010/11 campaign, there was just – you guessed it – one month and one day separating the two games. After a 2-0 win at Stadium MK, the men from MK1 then visited the Memorial Stadium and ground out a 2-1 success.

This is, though, the shortest time between league fixtures against the same opponent for the Dons since the 2013/14 season when they played Oldham Athletic twice in the space of 10 days – on that occasion, the Dons won both matches by the same scoreline of 2-1.

Three players will face former sides in this Saturday’s clash including striker Jermaine Easter, who makes his first return to Stadium MK since he left to join Crystal Palace in January 2011.

The striker, who scored 21 times in 63 games for the Dons, has been with Bristol Rovers since January 2015 and has already tallied 60 appearances and 12 goals. He was suspended for the meeting back in October.

Alongside Easter on Saturday will be former Dons loanee Chris Lines, who spent four months at Stadium MK during the second half of the 2012/13 season. The midfielder has over 250 appearances for the Pirates to his name, as well as 26 goals.

Both Easter and Lines played an integral role in Bristol Rovers’ promotion last season, during which time they worked alongside goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, who enjoyed a loan spell at the Memorial Stadium between September and December 2015. He played 18 times for the Rovers, keeping five clean sheets.

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