This weekend Bristol Rovers entertain a team in turmoil, MK Dons parted company with their head Coach Karl Robinson on 24 October but are yet to appoint a replacement.
There have been many high profile names brandished as possible replacements none more so than Steven Gerrard. The internet is buzzing with the possibility that Stevie G is looking to produce some Bucks Fizz!
Robinson was sacked after a 3-0 home loss to Southend, which followed on from Rovers 3-3 draw at Stadium MK. Since that loss the Dons have played just two League games under Richie Barker, losing 2-1 at Sheffield United and drawing 1-1 at home to Walsall last weekend.
In that game the Saddlers stood up to early pressure and came back into contention as the game approached the half-hour mark when they took the lead as Scott Laird headed home Josh Ginnelly’s cross at the back post.
Stout defending from Paul Downing and then Jack Hendry denied the visitors a second goal before the half-time break.
In the second-half the Dons’ pressure was not rewarded until the final minute of normal time when Dean Bowditch shot across Neil Etheridge into the far corner for his seventh goal of the season.
Despite their current league position, the Dons still boast one of the better away records in the division having secured 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.
There have just 13 games played between the Rovers and the Dons, in the various guises, and it is MK who hold the upper hand with 7 victories, to Rovers 1, and 5 draws.
In the League the teams first met on 29 September 1981 when they were known as Wimbledon. They tied 2-2 at Eastville with doubles by Gary Mabbutt for Rovers and Dave Hubbick for the Wombles. The home team won the return fixture 1-0 in South West London with a goal by Mike Smith.
On New Year’s Day 2011 in Milton Keynes the Dons won 2-0 in a match that they bossed from start to finish, Dan Powell and Peter Levan being the scorers. One month and one day later (just as it is this season) MK went away from Bristol with a 2-1 win.
One notable feature of games between the clubs is how close they are. There has never been a 0-0 draw and in the 12 games in only 5 of them has one of the teams drawn a blank and yet until the match earlier this season no team had scored more than 2 and then both teams scored 3!
Richie Barker spoke about Rovers snatching a draw for the jaws of defeat at Stadium MK with those two goals in the last 5 minutes of the game last month, "It was a tough five minutes. It wasn't just about the result that night, but the performance. Everyone who was there from a neutral point of view would have said they couldn't see us not winning.”
”We felt exactly the same. We weren't complacent, but were a little nervous. But that five minutes has led to the game a few days later, led to another defeat and everything that happened in the next week. It was a pivotal five minutes.”
"And we have to get that point across to the players sometimes even the smallest of details on the grand scheme of things can be vital. Unfortunately, that five minutes led to where we are. It's not the only thing, but it played a part. This is an opportunity now to go there and reverse that."
Speaking about Rovers’ hat-trick hero that night, Matty Taylor, Barker commented "He was a player we looked at in the summer. I know Darrell Clarke well, and I spoke to him about Matty, and he said he was amazed no-one else came in for him. He was out of contract. It wasn't that someone didn't pay £400,000 for him, he was out of contract.”
“He could command big wages because he's had a good record, but fair play to him, he's done it in three divisions consistently now. I watched him on Tuesday night in the FA Cup and he scored again, and he played a pivotal part in their draw here.”
"If you can keep him quiet or out of the box, we'll do well. If we'd have had his number of goals from one of our number nines, we certainly wouldn't be where we are now."
Dons are likely to be without Nicky Maynard, who is suffering hamstring trouble, Darren Potter is also unlikely to make the trip as he continues to feel the effects of a blow he took at Sheffield United last month. Despite being substituted against Walsall with a head injury, Paul Downing is expected to be fit.
Fellow centre back Joe Walsh will return to the team following his international call-up to the Wales squad. Midfielder Samir Carruthers was fit enough to play just over an hour of the Walsall game and is expected to retain his place having returned from a recent injury.