MK Dons (Home)

Jul 3, 2023 | 2023 A Season in Review

The Memorial Stadium Saturday 4th February 2023

Bristol Rovers 0

MK Dons 2

Eisa (3, pen), Dean (90 + 1)

Referee: Carl Boyeson Attendance: 8,429

These two sides met for the third time this season and the visitors have now had a different manager in each of those games.

Liam Manning presided over MK’s 1-0 defeat in the league, Dean Lewington was in charge for the EFL Trophy tie at the Mem and now it was the turn of the recently appointed Mark Jackson.

Rovers had signed two more players on transfer deadline day, in Lamare Bogarde and Calum MacDonald but only Bogarde was included in the matchday squad that showed two changes to the starting lineup with Lewis Gordon and Grant Ward starting in place of Luca Hoole and Antony Evans.

We were told that Evans, along with goalkeeper James Belshaw, had both been injured at Morecambe seven days earlier, Evans picking up a bruised foot during the game and Belshaw injuring his ribs during the warm up.

The keeper would have been on the bench in any case, as he was at Morecambe and in his place we saw Anssi Jaakkola return to the squad, just when we thought he was going to be the permanent goalkeeping coach.

The game couldn’t have got off to a worse start for Rovers or recent loan acquisition Jarell Quansah as his challenge on Mo Eisa in the area was a definite penalty and the MK Dons man, after treatment, confidently stroked home the resulting spot kick. It was the second time he had converted from the spot at the Mem this season, having done the same in the 4-1 Trophy defeat.

Eisa was denied a second goal by goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe on 12 minutes, and Jonathan Leko hit two first half efforts over the bar in a lacklustre first half when Rovers, faced by two solid banks of four and two quick front men, failed to show the urgency or the know how to break down a determined MK Dons side.

Indeed, Joe Barton’s side failed to muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and although the manager made a change at the break, sending on Ryan Loft for ineffective skipper Paul Coutts, there was very little change.

Yes, there was a little bit more urgency, but the service up to striker Josh Coburn was non existent and you could feel his frustration from high up in the stand. He was hooked after77 minutes, which gave little time for his replacement, John Marquis, to make his mark.

Sam Finley mustered Rovers first shot on target with 89 minutes on the clock, forcing a comfortable save from Jamie Cumming, and then it was curtains for the Gas as, with players pushed up in search of an equaliser, MK broke quickly after substitute Bogarde had given away possession too cheaply and inadvertently set up a swift counter attack.

Eisa raced towards goal before squaring the ball to young substitute Max Dean who gleefully rifled home his first ever league goal to give his side a 2-0 victory.

There was just time for Bogarde to curl a shot inches wide of the upright at the end of his eight minute cameo appearance, but it was too little, too late.

Bristol Rovers: Balcombe, Gibbons, Quansah, Connolly, Gordon (Anderson, 77), Coutts (Loft, 46), Ward (Bogarde, 86), Finley, Sinclair (McCormick, 63), Collins, Coburn (Marquis, 77).

Substitutes: Jaakkola, Hoole.

MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Tucker, Jules, Harvie, McEachran (Johnson, 70), Maghoma, Leko (Dean, 84), Devoy, Kaikai (Lawrence, 90 + 2), Eisa (Grigg, 90 + 2).

Substitutes: Grant, Burns, Ravizzoli.


There were no former Rovers players in the MK Dons side

In three meetings between the clubs this season MK Dons have had a different manager each time

Mo Eisa scored a penalty for MK Dons against Rovers for the second time this season

Yellow cards were issued to Paul Coutts and Sam Finley

Coutts was skipper and then Finley when he was substituted

Rovers league debut for Lamare Bogarde

Nine added minutes

(photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman