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Rovers 1 MK Dons 1

7 December 2019

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A late Cameron John goal earned Rovers a point against MK Dons after a frustrating afternoon at the Keepmoat Stadium.

John’s 85th-minute equaliser was the third time Rovers had the ball in the back of the net with Alfie May and Kieran Sadlier both seeing earlier goals chalked off for offside.

Alex Gilbey gave the visitors the lead just after half-time with a thunderbolt strike from 20-yards and - while both keepers were called upon – the Dons’ Lee Nicholls was the busier of the two keeping out shots from Ben Whiteman, Sadlier, and May.

The match marked Rovers' first home league game in 35 days. Darren Moore made a number of changes to his side including handing May his first league start since October 5.

The decision seemed to have been an inspired one as May had the ball in the net within two minutes of the start, but the assistant referee raised his flag. Rovers’ no.19 was in the action again soon after when his shot from just inside the box bobbled and bounced awkwardly almost wrong-footing Nicholls.

Regan Poole - who had been a late addition to the MK Dons starting XI after Jordan Moore-Taylor was injured in the warm-up – lashed an effort wildly over the bar after the breakdown of a Dons’ corner. Joe Mason also probably could have done better for the visitors when he was put through on goal – he took the ball too wide and while he managed to send the ball back across the face of goal, there was no one to tap in.

Some good play down the right between James Coppinger and Brad Halliday allowed the latter to hit a good ball across the box but - even though Rovers were lined up to tap-in - it somehow missed all of them. The ball was cleared to Ben Whiteman whose dipping effort was awkward for the ‘keeper but Nicholls did well.

Whiteman had another chance soon after – this one was off target – and Coppinger fired over after a neat backheel from May found his fun into the box.

MK Dons then had their own period of pressure. Midfielder Alex Gilby saw two good efforts blocked. His first - a right footed out swinger - was well saved by Seny Dieng, while the second from outside the box was blocked by Donervon Daniels. Mason then sent another effort careering over after Rovers struggled to clear their lines from a corner.

The final moments of the first half belonged to Rovers. Both Whiteman and Sadlier hit the target with effort from the edge of the box – Dons’ keeper Nicholls stood up to the test on both occasions.

No changes for either side at the break but it was MK Dons who took control of the game. Gilbey – who had looked most likely for the visitors in the first half – sent a thunderbolt effort into the top-corner from 20 yards to make it 1-0.

With their side in the ascendancy, Dons – who were looking for their first win in the league since September 14 – were eager to protect their lead. The visitors were effective in slowing the game down but were somewhat fortunate when Ben Reeves – who was already on a yellow card – deliberately blocked a quick free-kick.

Rovers carved their first big chance of the second half on the hour-mark. A trademark Coppinger cross was begging to be turned in, but Dons centre-half Joe Walsh did just enough to prevent May from capitalising. May was given another chance moments later - an excellent weighted ball by Whiteman found his run. The no.19 was eased out but did well to win his side a corner. Sadlier went agonisingly close when that corner-kick fell to him - the Irishman’s effort just wouldn’t dip fast enough.

The Rovers no.7 was left frustrated again when he got a wonderful glancing header onto a corner-kick only to be denied at the near post.

Sadlier – who had looked threatening since his switch to the left following the introduction of Max Watters in place of May – had the ball in the net with ten minutes to go but Rovers were thwarted once more by the assistant referee’s flag.

However, there was no flag moments later when Reece James' corner kick ricocheted around the MK Dons box and eventually bounced off Cameron John's knee and hit the back of the net.

Rovers sprinted to the half-way line to get the game re-started – clearly believing they had enough to claim the win and that was almost the case when the ball fell to Watters on his league debut.

The 20-year-old did everything right - he showed brilliant strength to get on the end of the ball and hold off his man but he dragged the shot just wide.


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