Milton Keynes Dons were many media pundits’ outsiders for promotion before the campaign began but any hope of flying under the radar has been shattered as they have exploded out of the gates under first-year head coach Liam Manning.
Behind the recent form of Scott Twine, mixed with the long-time service of Dean Lewington in defence, the Dons currently sit third in the League One table on goal difference – just behind Wigan Athletic and ahead of Plymouth Argyle.
The Dons bring a nine-match unbeaten run into the Keepmoat Stadium this weekend, including three wins in their last four. However, the Dons dropped points in their last contest, that being a 3-3 draw away to Fleetwood Town on Tuesday. In general, MK Dons have won eight, lost two and drawn five in the club’s last 15 matches across all competitions dating back to last season.
The Dons are unbeaten against teams in the lower-half of the table with three wins and three draws. But the Dons have allowed goals against the opposition conceding eight in those six games but scored 13 goals.
In all competitions this season, MK Dons have kept just three clean sheets. However, with the team scoring at a two goals per game, the offensive proficiency is more than capable of filing.
The Dons have steadily improved upon their league position in each of the last two seasons. Following a third-place finish and promotion from League Two in the 2018/19 campaign, last year, the Dons finished 13th in League One, while being 19th the season before in a campaign cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using a combination of a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-1-2 formation, Manning’s Dons side distributes the ball well when it comes to goal scoring. Eight different players have scored for the Dons this season, including a hat-trick from the team’s top goal getter Scott Twine in their last outing against Fleetwood Town. Four other players have more than a goal under their belt, while six players – including Twine, have assisted on goals for the club.
There have been quite a few players to have served both Doncaster Rovers and MK Dons in the past. Just a few of the names include Lewis Guy, Jordan Houghton and Paul Downing.
Guy played in 187 matches for Rovers from 2005 through 2010, scoring more than 20 goals for the club. He would later make a move to Stadium MK in May 2010, staying with MK Dons until 2012.
Houghton served two loan spells with Rovers from parent club Chelsea, the first lasting from August 2016 until February 2017. He returned to the Keepmoat Stadium in August 2017 for yet another loan spell, this time running through to January 2018. In July of that same year, Houghton signed a permanent move to MK Dons after his contract was terminated by Chelsea.
As for Downing, he played just under two full seasons at MK Dons (June 2016 – January 2018), shortly afterwards completing a five-month loan deal at Rovers (January 2019 – May 2019). In all, he made more than 65 appearances for the two clubs combined.
Since the 2013/14 campaign, Rovers and MK Dons have met eight times on the pitch, with Rovers claiming three wins, drawing three and losing two during that span. Included in the meetings between the two sides is just one scoreless draw, that coming at the Keepmoat Stadium in October 2014.