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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 3 MK Dons 0

1 January 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 3 MK Dons 0

1 January 2024

Rovers put their Christmas blues firmly behind them with a comprehensive win over high-flying MK Dons to kick off 2024 in impressive fashion.

Goals from Luke Molyneux, Joe Ironside and Tommy Rowe saw Rovers capitalise on an excellent first half performance and build on their heartening showing at Mansfield Town three days earlier.

There was a tremendous confidence in possession and a strong desire to push for more, even as the goals wracked up.

And after the break, Rovers were never unduly troubled as they saw out the game with great comfort.

Grant McCann made one change from the side that started at Mansfield with Louis Jones returning in place of the injured Ian Lawlor.

Rovers took the lead on eight minutes. Ironside flicked the ball on from a Jones clearance, sending Molyneux racing away before picking his spot in the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Harrison Biggins spotted MK Dons keeper Craig MacGillivray off his line moments later and smashed a shot narrowly wide from just over half way.

By 14 minutes, the lead had been doubled. Jamie Sterry saw a shot parried after a short corner routine and Harrison Biggins raced onto the follow-up, lashing a shot from 20 yards which Ironside deflected home.

The momentum was firmly with Rovers and they continued to push for more. Tommy Rowe clipped a ball across the box which Biggins struck first time, only to see his effort deflected wide.

The first sight of goal for the visitors came midway through the half. Max Dean pounced on a mistake at the back to put himself clear on goal but pulled his shot wide of the far post.

Sterry drew a good save from MacGillivray with a fierce left-footed drive from the corner of the box.

And Rovers were agonisingly close to a third on 27 minutes. Mo Faal flicked a Joe Ironside header on goal, drawing an excellent reaction save from MacGillivray before the West Bromwich Albion loanee lashed a shot off the upright.

Rovers broke four on three from half way with Biggins sliding a pass into the box for Molyneux who sent a shot agonisingly wide of the far post.

MK Dons built up a head of steam after the half hour mark and it took a brilliant block from Sterry to deny Mo Eisa a clear shot on goal.

Jones dealt with an awkward bouncing effort from Joe Tomlinson from outside the area.

But the visitors’ charge was quelled as Rovers added a third on 43 minutes when Rowe raced across goal and diverted a corner home from close range.

Biggins saw a fierce drive blocked out by an outstretched leg just before the break.

Rovers delivered a thoroughly professional performance in the second half to quell any concerns of a comeback from the visitors.

Chances for both sides were few in number and it was not until Biggins dragged a shot from distance wide on 70 minutes that either truly threatened.

Jones produced an excellent reaction save to push a Max Dean effort over the bar in the later stages before blocking a header from Warren O’Hora.

Sam Straughan-Brown and Jack Goodman were both sent on in the late stages - ensuring four Academy graduates completed the game with Jones and Tavonga Kuleya also on the pitch.

Rovers: Jones, Sterry, Olowu, Bailey, Senior, Biggins (Straughan-Brown 89), Close, Rowe (Hurst 77), Molyneux (Nixon 77), Ironside (Goodman 89), Faal (Kuleya 67). Subs not used: Bottomley, Faulkner.

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