The Dons View
July 1, 2016
THE MK DONS VIEW OF THE PIRATES
(This article is reproduced courtesy of MK Dons and is their view of Bristol Rovers FC.)
Ahead of the 2016/17 Sky Bet League One campaign, mkdons.com looks at the teams MK Dons will face.
Next up is Bristol Rovers, who MK Dons will face for the first time in five years in the season ahead.
Mascot: Captain Black Arab
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (capacity 11,000)
Home colours: Blue and white shirts, white shorts, white socks
Darrell Clarke took charge of Bristol Rovers in March 2014 and although he couldn’t prevent the Pirates dropping out of the EFL, a year later he guided them back into League Two by winning the Conference Play-Off final.
Then last season, the 38-year-old led the club to a third-place finish and promotion to League One – his second promotion in successive seasons.
Clarke began his career as a player with Mansfield Town.
He also enjoyed spells at Hartlepool United and Rochdale before joining Salisbury City, who he later went on to manage before his switch to Rovers.
Key and notable players
Rovers’ striker Matty Taylor was one of three players shortlisted for the League Two Player of the Year award after a season in which he netted 28 goals.
The closest to him in the scoring charts was Billy Bodin, who had 13 strikes to his name in 2015/16.
Taylor was also one of the Pirates’ top appearance-makers last campaign, but he was behind defenders Lee Brown and Tom Lockyer in the list.
Some of Clarke’s other key players heading into the 2016/17 season include Ellis Harrison, Liam Lawrence, Cristian Montano and former Dons Chris Lines and Jermaine Easter.
Bristol Rovers secured back-to-back promotions on a dramatic final day in May 2016 after coming from behind to beat Dagenham & Redbridge courtesy of Lee Brown’s 92nd minute winner.
Rovers made a slow start to the campaign and spent the first few months in the bottom half of the table.
However, after a strong December, they climbed up the rankings and in the final nine weeks of the campaign they lost just once on their way to claiming the third and final automatic-promotion spot.
Rovers released just one player following their promotion-winning season – striker Rory Fallon, who made just three appearances for the first-team in 2015/16.
They also offered new deals to the rest of their out-of-contract players and, to date, Daniel Leadbitter, Billy Bodin, James Clarke, Lee Mansell, Mark McChrystal, Cristian Montano, Chris Lines and Ellis Harrison have all agreed to extend their stays.
In terms of incomings, the Pirates have signed Peter Hartley and Byron Moore – centre-back Harley joins from Plymouth Argyle while forward Moore is a free transfer from Port Vale.
HISTORY WITH THE DONS
Dons wins: 6
Last Dons win: 2-1, 2 Feb 2011 (Memorial Stadium)
Biggest Dons win: 2-0, 1 Jan 2011 (Stadium MK; 2-0, 19 Aug 2006 (National Hockey Stadium)
Last draw: 1-1, 17 Feb 2007 (Memorial Stadium)
Rovers wins: 1
Last Rovers win: 1-0, 5 Apr 2010 (Memorial Stadium)
Biggest Rovers win: 1-0, 5 Apr 2010 (Memorial Stadium)
Milton Keynes Dons host Bristol Rovers on Tuesday 18th October 2016
and then visit The Memorial Stadium on Saturday 19th November 2016.