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19 November 2016

Bristol Rovers 0 - 0 MK Dons

Attendance: 9,031 (291 away)

Rovers created several chances at the Mem, but were unable to find the net in their encounter against MK Dons, as the game ended goalless.

Rovers made seven changes from the sides that took to the field in Tuesday's Emirates FA Cup replay against Crawley Town, as Daniel Leadbitter, Jake Clarke-Salter, Ollie Clarke, Hiram Boateng, Charlie Colkett, Ellis Harrison and Jermaine Easter were all included in the starting line-up for the visit of MK Dons.

After playing one-hundred-and-twenty minutes on Tuesday, the attacking duo of Matty Taylor and Rory Gaffney started the game on the bench.

Before kick-off, there was an impeccably observed minute's silence at the Mem as a mark of respect to the fallen, with the Rovers players wearing poppies on their shirts for the fixture.

The first chance of the game fell to Rovers when left-back Lee Brown was allowed space to direct a dangerous cross into the MK Dons area that reached Ellis Harrison at a good height at the far post, but the striker couldn't keep his header on target from close-range.

The visitors responded early almost immediately with a headed chance of their own, when a whipped cross from the right evaded the Rovers defence and with his back to goal, striker Kieran Agard flicked a header that flashed narrowly past the post.

Another aerial chance fell to Ellis Harrison as the game neared the twenty-minute mark, after an inviting delivery into the area from deep by Hiram Boateng curled into the path of the advancing forward, but diving forward Harrison's header rose of the crossbar.

After a bright switch of play via a diagonal ball from Hiram Boateng, Rovers were able to carve out an opportunity to cross the ball from the right, with Daniel Leadbitter taking his time to angle a tempting cross into the area that was again met by Ellis Harrison, who this time kept a header low that forced a save down on the ground by Dons' goalkeeper David Martin.

Rovers first corner of the afternoon caused the visitors problems, with a well-aimed delivery from the right by Charlie Colkett finding the leaping Ollie Clarke who sent a powerful header just wide of the far-post.

Just prior to the break MK Dons were able to carve out a rare first-half chance when defender George Baldock cut inside from the right and connected sweetly with a right-footed effort from twenty-five yards out that required Kelle Roos to be alert to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Six minutes after restart Rovers made a triple substitution, introducing Matty Taylor, Rory Gaffney and Chris Lines at the expense of Boateng, Colkett and Ellis Harrison.

The changes sparked Rovers into life, with the three substitutes combining within minutes of coming on, with Chris Lines breaking from deep and feeding the ball through to Gaffney, who turned neatly inside the area to pick out the advancing Matty Taylor, who had his shot from the edge of the area charged down on route to goal.

Inside the final twenty minutes, a quick breakaway by Rovers resulted in Stuart Sinclair being bundled over on the edge of the area, but lying on the floor the tenacious midfielder managed to angle the ball to Matty Taylor with his head, allowing the striker to break into the area and fire a powerful strike on goal that was pushed away by David Martin.

Rovers had to withstand a brief spell of pressure from MK Dons during the final ten minutes, with Daniel Leadbitter standing firm to deny the visitors from breaking into the box via the left-wing with a well executed sliding challenge.

A late opportunity for Rovers came when a cross from Rory Gaffney from the right was met in the area by Jermaine Easter, who directed a header into the bottom corner that required 'keeper David Martin to dive low to his right to tip the ball away from danger.

Next up for Rovers is the visit of Charlton Athletic to the Mem on Tuesday evening. 

Rovers: Kelle Roos, Daniel Leadbitter, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer (C), Ollie Clarke, Ellis Harrison (51' Rory Gaffney), Jermaine Easter, Stuart Sinclair, Hiram Boateng (51' Chris Lines), Charlie Colkett (51' Matty Taylor) , Jake Clarke-Salter

Subs: Will Puddy, Peter Hartley, Cristian Montano, Billy Bodin, 

MK Dons: David Martin (G), George Baldock, Dean Lewington (C), Joe Walsh, Ed Upson, Samir Carruthers, Dean Bowditch (90' Dan Powell), Ben Reeves (90' George B Williams), Kieran Agard, Jack Hendry, Ryan Colclough (76' Geroge C Williams)

Subs: Lee Nicholls (G), Paul Downing, Ben Tilney, Kabongo Tshimanga 

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