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Club News

Focus On: MK Dons

By Gerry Prewett

27 October 2017

Club News

Focus On: MK Dons

By Gerry Prewett

27 October 2017

The consternation in North Bristol at present is considerable in the lead up to Bristol Rovers home fixture with MK Dons.

As Rovers are on a 3 game losing streak that has not been experienced since the dark days of the Conference and places like Altrincham and Braintree.

In all three of those defeats, there has been something different about the game but the fragility of the defence and the fact that no goals have been scored is of concern to everyone involved at Rovers.

How Darrell Clarke decides to shuffle his pack remains to be seen but Ellis Harrison will not be included as he serves a one-match suspension after his latest booking.

Whilst Rovers were going down 1-0 in a very winnable fixture at Rochdale the Dons were involved in an eight-goal thriller at Stadium MK against a resurgent Oldham team.

The Latics took a seventh-minute lead as Craig Davies netted his seventh goal of the season. That lead didn’t last long as Alex Gilbey equalised for the home team.

As the game approached half-time it took on an entirely different complexion when firstly on 39 minutes Queensy Menig's cross reached Eoin Doyle for a free header and then with one minute to go to the break Menig’s cross was put past his own keeper by MK’s Joe Walsh.

An Ed Upson free-kick on 56 minutes brilliant free-kick touched the underside of the bar on it's way past Johny Placide in the Oldham net. It gave the home team hope only for Oldham skipper Peter Clark to make it 4-2.

With just 10 minutes left Aiden Nesbitt brought the scores closer before Upson pounced for a late scrambled goal to bring the scores to 4-4.

Speaking after the game Upson said, "It was quite stressful, but I think we could have nicked it in the end. Oldham crumbled late on and we took advantage but we'll take the point having been 4-2 down, but we're slightly not disappointed not to win it.

"We were all pushing for it, but we were wary not to get caught at the other end, so we were a bit tentative.”

"A few times this season, when goals have gone against us we've let our heads drop and let it affect us too much. The best thing about today was the character and desire of the lads to get back in it.

"I think, on the ball, we were very good, but off it we weren't so good. That has to be addressed. It's nice to be scoring goals but if you keep clean sheets, you're not going far wrong."

Talking about his free-kick Upson said: "I've been trying them all last year and all this year, so it was nice to finally see one go in!"

“It does feel like a point earned having been 4-2 down although we’d rather have three, obviously. It might be a point we look back on as an important one.”

“A few times this season, when goals have gone against us, we’ve let our heads get down and we’ve let it affect us a bit too much. The biggest positive from today was the spirit and the character we showed at the end.”

“Having that character in the squad can take you a long way. Promotion campaigns are built on togetherness and team spirit and we showed that we’ve got a bit of that going on. We should keep the momentum gained and take it into the preparation for the match against Bristol Rovers.”

The very first match between the teams took place on 6 January 1968 when Rovers won 4-0 at the then Southern League team’s Plough Lane ground. That was the Gas’ solitary victory until they beat the Dons 1-0 on 5 April 2010, Rovers only victory over MK Dons!

In the League the teams first met on 29 September 1981, when they tied 2-2 at Eastville, the Dons won the return fixture 1-0 in South West London.

On New Year’s Day, 2011 the Dons won easily in Milton Keynes, 2-0 in a match that they bossed from start to finish.

One notable feature of games between the clubs is how close they are, with the exception of that first game.

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.

However apart from that first game no team had scored more than 2 until that remarkable 3-3 draw last season as a certain Matty Taylor completed a very late hat-trick to stun the home team.

Don’s Boss Robbie Neilson was pleased with the spirit shown by his team in not giving up when all seemed lost last week, “Ultimately we are disappointed that we have scored four goals at home and not taken maximum points. In the grand scheme of things, though, it's a point we've picked up from a difficult position and that will give us a massive boost.”

“I was pleased the spirit of the team and the fight back but also the enthusiasm from the crowd, they were magnificent throughout and they really helped us, giving us that lift when we needed it.”

“We played some really good football. We were entertaining and we got into some good areas. We scored some really good goals too. We just have to do better defensively. It wasn’t a performance where we conceded four goals and were all over the place but we just need to eradicate these moments that we seem to be having at the moment.”

“Hopefully the fans enjoyed it because I thought it was a really entertaining match, which is what football is about.

"Earlier this season, we were grinding out results but we weren't really entertaining but today, the system we played allowed us to control for long periods and we had a lot of shots. Oldham came here and played some good football as well.”

“We went through a period where we went seven hours without conceding a goal which was one of the longest runs in the Club’s history and now, all of a sudden, we’ve started losing goals left, right and centre.

"Most of the goals have been down to individual errors so while we are disappointed to lose them, I don't expect to lose them too often. We’ll aim to get back to our old form - we’ll get back to the training ground and make sure we work hard to eradicate these moments.”

“We’ve changed the system and with that, it means it will take time for the players to fully understand it. They are picking it up, we just seem to be making wrong decisions in the wrong moments.”

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