HEAD-TO-HEAD: Dons out to take revenge on their return to Rovers

Blowing a 3-1 lead with five minutes to go to draw 3-3 with Bristol Rovers last month has proven to be a pivotal moment for MK Dons this season.

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 11:37 am
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 12:22 pm
MK Dons

Two Matty Taylor goals, completing his hat-trick, in the dying moments at Stadium MK in October saw Dons' winless run at home extended further, while proved to be one of the final nails in Karl Robinson's coffin as he left just one game later.

The result, albeit a point, has left something of a scar on Dons, and they are still feeling the aches and pains of it in the build-up to their trip to The Memorial Stadium.

Richie Barker remains in caretaker charge for the fifth time - his third outing in the league - and he hopes his side can extract some revenge for the two dropped points a month ago.

"It was a tough five minutes," he admitted. "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 some times - 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."

Keeping Taylor quiet will be something Dons must do though in order to have a chance of nicking something from Bristol on Saturday. While he didn't have a stand-out game at Stadium MK, his hat-trick showed the importance of a potent front man - something Dons have struggled with for nearly 18 months.

Taylor, who joined Rovers in July 2014 on a free transfer from Chester, has scored 14 goals in 21 appearances this season and certainly caught the attention of Dons as they sought out a striker in the summer.

And Barker knows keeping him quiet could be key on Saturday.

He said: "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."

But Dons are likely to be without Nicky Maynard, who is suffering hamstring trouble, while Darren Potter too is unlikely to make the trip as he continues to feel the affects 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 for the trip to Bristol, while fellow centre back Joe Walsh will return to the fold following his international call-up to the Wales squad.

Heading to the Memorial Ground for the first time since February 2011, Dons have decent form against Rovers, losing only once in four previous visits. In fact, Rovers’ win in April 2010 is their only triumph over Dons since the club formed in 2004.