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Match Reports

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 0-2 MK Dons

20 April 2021

Rovers lose at home to MK Dons...

Two goals in either side would condemn the Gas to back-to-back defeats at the Mem.

Scott Fraser would be the most alert to a rebound from an initial Will Grigg effort to put the Dons ahead early on, firing home from close-range.

Will Grigg would then find the net himself in the second half, after receiving a smart pass from the byline by Zak Jules, who got on the end of a corner. With the goal at his mercy from short-range, Grigg just had to tap home to extend his side's lead.

Rovers battled valiantly, with Daly and McCormick finding chances in the second half, and Luke Leahy would see a penalty saved in added time to rub salt in the wounds.

Joey Barton opted to make three changes to the side that lost to Lincoln on the weekend, forced into one with Ed Upson out suspended. Brandon Hanlan replaced him in a change of system, with Zain Walker replacing Zain Westbrooke too. Elsewhere, the Gas were buoyed by the return of Alex Rodman who slotted in at right wing-back.

Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird would be the first from either side to get a sight of goal, as a corner was flicked down in his direction on the 6th minute. It bounced just before the wing-back struck it, but saw his effort blazed clear of Jaakkola's bar.

Ayunga would attempt to snake his way into the area moments later, wriggling neatly from the byline before eventually being crowded out and seeing the ball knocked out for a corner.

Rovers contested the following set-piece well, with Leahy latching onto an initial looping ball and directing back into a dangerous area. Hanlan utilised his body strength well to clear space to strike the dipping ball but saw his effort on the turn go straight at Fisher who collected well at close-range.

On the quarter-hour mark, Rovers were behind.

A weak clearance allowed the visitors to spring the counter, with Will Grigg hitting a low effort from the edge of the area towards the bottom left corner. Jaakkola did well to adjust down low and palm it, but Scott Fraser was the most alert to the rebound, tapping in from yards out to take the lead.

Up the other end, McCormick would curl a free-kick from 20+ yards wide of the right post.

Luke Leahy would be called into action before the half-hour point, needing to respond to a superb whipped delivery from Sorinola deep towards the Rovers back post. There, Leahy tracked the run of his man and nodded a header over his bar to avert the danger.

A nice move unlocked an opening for the Gas on the 33rd minute with George Williams darting pacily towards the byline on the right flank. There, he fired a powerful ball across the box towards the run of Ayunga, who'd burst clear of his man. However, Andy Fisher reacted superbly at the front post to leap out and keep hold of the venomous cross to stop the danger for the Dons.

In front of the Thatchers End, the Dons would find a chance for a second as Grigg effortlessly controlled a looped ball on the byline before rolling back to Sorinola. From there, the youngster fired on goal, but saw a deflection off a Rovers defender take it inches wide of the right post.

Rovers continued to battle away for an equaliser with Rodman firing an effort from a sharp angle on the right side. It ricochetted out to Hanlan who struck low from the right apex of the box towards the bottom left corner. Fisher stretched to make the save, but saw it roll past his post in the end.

Sorinola would continue to threaten for MK as the half edged on, showing invention to work room for an ambitious strike on the left side of the box. Cutting back on his right, he struck with venom towards Jaakkola's goal but saw his strike clatter off the bar before crashing his head into his hands.

It would remain 1-0 until the break.

Barton made a triple change at the break, with Baldwin, Oztumer and Westbrooke replacing Hanlan, Harries and Walker.

Rovers started the second half with real intensity, forcing an opportunity through an uncompromising press as Luke McCormick charged down Fisher inside the opening minutes. Fisher's clearance struck the Chelsea loanee, seeing it go narrowly wide of the post from close-range.

Moments later, the Gas worked another half-chance with Oztumer slipping a ball to Ayunga who looked to strike while side on to goal. It rolled under him to Westbrooke who recycled it out wide. Rodman was on hand to deliver a cross towards the back post with Ayunga shielding the ball into the path of Luke Leahy. The left-back kept his first-time strike down but saw it go clear of the right post.

On the hour mark, MK Dons had extended their lead. A superb ball was delivered from the left of centre towards the back stick, with Zak Jules firing back across goal into the path of Will Grigg. From there, Grigg had the task of rolling it into the net, doubling his side's lead.

Rovers retaliated well, with Ayunga bursting into the box from the right and squaring across to McCormick. There, McCormick had a clear sight of goal and struck hard with his right foot, but saw Dean Lewington bravely throw himself in front of the strike to block.

Dean Lewington would then lace a low effort just before the 70th minute from the edge of the box. But saw his strike glance off the side-netting and go behind.

Rodman would be replaced by Daly shortly after.

Daly would force the Gas' next sight of goal, valiantly progressing through the Dons ranks and surging into the area from the left side. He flashed a snapshot towards the near post but could only find the side-netting.

Alfie Kilgour was lucky to escape a red card late on after stopping a breakaway with a rough challenge on Ethan Laird, with the ref' opting to just go for the yellow.

Luke Leahy would see a penalty saved by Fisher in added time, striking low towards the right but seeing the Dons keeper react well to make the stop.

In the end, the Gas couldn't muster another effort on goal, and now face an almost insurmountable climb out of the dropzone.

Rovers travel to Pompey on Saturday.

Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola, Luke Leahy ©, George Williams, Cian Harries, Alfie Kilgour, Alex Rodman, Luke McCormick, Pablo Martinez, Zain Walker, Brandon Hanlan, Jonah Ayunga.

Subs: Joe Day, Zain Westbrooke, James Daly, Josh Hare, David Tutonda, Jack Baldwin, Erhun Oztumer.

MK Dons: Andrew Fisher, Dean Lewington ©, Zak Jules, Josh McEachran, Harry Darling, David Kasumu, Will Grigg, Scott Fraser, Ethan Laird, Matt O’Riley, Matthew Sorinola.

Subs: Lee Nichols, Charlie Brown, Andrew Surman, Lasse Sorensen, Joe Mason, Jordan Houghton, Jay Bird.


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