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Match Reports

Rovers 4 MK Dons 1

Mulgrew double helps to down Dons

26 August 2017

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Charlie Mulgrew scored twice, as Rovers made it back-to-back league wins with a 4-1 victory over MK Dons at Ewood Park.

It was another defender who got the ball rolling, before the Rovers skipper made his mark.

Having joined the club 12 months ago to the day, Derrick Williams celebrated the anniversary in style with a superb opener with just 90 seconds on the clock.

MK Dons equalised against the run of play on 25 minutes, as Ed Upson drilled home from inside the area.

Mulgrew restored Rovers' lead soon after with another trademark free-kick, his second of the season, from a similar range to his strike at Southend on the opening day.

Chances were few and far between after the interval, before the Scotland international effectively put the game to bed 13 minutes from time, heading home from a corner.

There was still time for Dominic Samuel to put some gloss on the performance, as he stroked home his fourth of the season late on, as Rovers followed up their success at Bradford last weekend with their first home win of the campaign.

Ahead of the game, Rovers made four changes to the side that were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Burnley in midweek.
Craig Conway, Elliott Bennett, Corry Evans and Samuel, who netted the winner at Bradford, were all brought back into the team, with Liam Feeney, Ben Gladwin, Peter Whittingham and Harry Chapman dropping to the bench.

Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson was handed his first league start, whilst Ryan Nyambe returned to the squad after recovering from a knee injury.

Rovers came flying out of the traps and opened the scoring with less than two minutes on the clock.

Bennett did well down the right, before playing the ball inside to Smallwood, who showed fantastic skill and awareness to bring the ball under control, before picking out Williams unmarked 25 yards out from goal.

The full-back controlled the pass on his chest, before drilling a superb low shot that flew into the bottom corner, to celebrate his one-year anniversary in style.

The Ewood faithful were up off their feet again on 14 minutes, as Rovers came close to doubling their lead. Paul Caddis crossed from the right and Antonsson rose highest at the far post, but his header rippled the netting on just the wrong side of the post.

At the midway point in the half, a misplaced pass saw Samuel run clean through, but MK Dons captain Dean Lewington got back to make a goal-saving challenge.

On 24 minutes, Rovers ought to have added a second goal. Smallwood was again the provider, playing a superb through ball to Antonsson, one-on-one with Lee Nicholls, who made a smart save to deny the Swede his first Rovers goal.

And the hosts were made to pay, as MK Dons equalised just a minute later. A cross from the right was cut-out by Mulgrew, but the ball looped up kindly to Upson, who drilled it past David Raya.

Mulgrew quickly made amends, as Rovers restored their lead on 29 minutes. Bennett was fouled 25 yards out from goal and the Rovers skipper curled the resultant free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner. It was his fifth goal in Rovers' colours and fourth from a free-kick.

The half ended with Upson trying his luck from long range, but his shot was comfortably saved by Raya.

Just like they did in the first half, Rovers started the second in the ascendancy. On 49 minutes, Caddis' cross from the right was cleared only as far as Evans, whose first-time volley was well blocked on its way to goal.

However, with just one goal in it, the visitors remained in the game and came close to an equaliser just before the hour mark. George Williams' cross-shot from the right flank almost caught out Raya, who had to tip the ball over the bar and from the resultant corner, Williams headed just wide at the far post.

A minute later, Samuel got the better of his marker, but curled his effort high and wide of the upright.

Tony Mowbray made a double change with 20 minutes remaining, sending on Gladwin and Chapman for Antonsson and Conway, as he looked to add fresh impetus into the Rovers attack.

And the switch worked a treat, as Rovers sealed the win with two goals in the closing stages.

On 77 minutes, Chapman's corner from the left was nodded down by Elliott Ward and his central defensive partner Mulgrew was on hand to head home his second goal of the game at the near post.

Six minutes later and Rovers wrapped up the three points. The two substitutes combined, as Gladwin played in Chapman down the right, he cut the ball back from the byline and Samuel stroked home his fourth goal in five games.

Rovers return to Ewood Park on Tuesday night, as they get their Checkatrade Trophy campaign underway against Stoke City's Under-21s.

ROVERS: Raya, Caddis, Ward, Mulgrew, Williams, Bennett, Smallwood, Evans, Conway (Chapman 71), Antonsson (Gladwin 71), Samuel.
Subs not used: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Whittingham, Feeney, Graham.

Goals: Williams (2), Mulgrew (29, 77), Samuel (83)
Booked: Williams

MK DONS: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington, Wootton, Upson, Ariyibi, Cisse, Pawlett (Muirhead 69), Seager (Nombe 77), Ebanks-Landell, Tshibola.
Subs not used: Sietsma, Downing, McGrandles, Brittain, Thomas-Asante.

Goals: Upson (25)
Booked: Lewington

Attendance: 10,111 (including 272 MK Dons supporters)

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