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Opposition Profile: MK Dons

8 June 2017

A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Milton Keynes Dons

Founded: 2004
Nickname: The Dons

Following Wimbledon FC’s relocation to Milton Keynes from South London, MK Dons officially considers itself to have been founded in 2004 when it adopted its present name, badge and club colours.

Initially based at the National Hockey Stadium, the club started out in League One in 2004-05, before being relegated to the fourth tier two seasons later.

The club moved to Stadium mk for the 2007-08 season, when former Rovers boss Paul Ince guided the Dons to the League Two title and Wembley success in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The Dons remained in League One until another ex-Rovers coach, Karl Robinson, steered the side to automatic promotion into the Championship, but the Buckinghamshire club were relegated just a year later.

The Manager: Robbie Neilson

Former Scotland international Robbie Neilson started his career with Hearts, where he made exactly 200 SPL appearances and won the Scottish Cup in 2006.

The defender joined Leicester City in July 2009 and spent time on loan at Brentford, before returning north of the border, first with Dundee United and later with Falkirk and East Fife.

After moving into coaching, Neilson was appointed head coach at former club Hearts in May 2014, going unbeaten in his first 20 league games en route to winning the Scottish Championship title in his debut season.

The team won 29 of their 36 league games, scoring 96 goals and finishing 21 points ahead of their nearest challengers.

The following season, Neilson guided Hearts to third in the Scottish Premiership, qualifying for the Europa League.

In December 2016, the 36-year-old was appointed manager of MK Dons and he recorded a 1-0 home victory over rivals AFC Wimbledon in his first league game in charge.

The Ground: Stadium mk

Located in the Denbigh district of Bletchley in Milton Keynes, Stadium mk has been home to MK Dons since 2007.

The all-seater stadium hosted its first match – against a Chelsea XI – in July 2007 and was officially opened by The Queen four months later.

Following redevelopment, which was completed in May 2015, the ground’s capacity increased from 22,000 to 30,500 – making it one of the largest in the division.

The stadium has hosted a number of rugby union fixtures, including three matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as well as two England Under-21 internationals and the 2014 FA Women’s Cup final.

Last Season: 12th, League One

Following their relegation into League One the previous season, MK Dons were tipped by many to make an immediate return to the Championship, but Dons fans were forced to settle for a mid-table finish.

Karl Robinson started the season in charge, but was relieved of his duties in October, after 15 games, with the club one point and two places above the relegation zone.

The club’s Head of Coaching, Richie Barker, took temporary charge, before Robbie Neilson was appointed in December, with the club having already spoken to Steven Gerrard about the vacant role.

Neilson led the side from 19th to a 12th-place finish in the league, whilst also overseeing an FA Cup second round replay victory over Karl Robinson’s Charlton Athletic, before being beaten by Brighton in round three.

Last Meeting: February 27th 2016

There has been just three previous meetings between the two clubs, with the most recent encounter coming in February 2016.

Jordi Gomez scored a 93rd-minute free-kick, as Rovers edged a five-goal thriller at Ewood Park.

Samir Carruthers opened the scoring for the Dons, before goals from Gomez and Elliott Bennett fired Rovers in front.

Alex Revell thought he had rescued a point for the relegation-threatened visitors with an 86th-minute equaliser, before Gomez curled home a sublime set-piece at the death to secure the spoils.

***Just 13 days until the 2017-18 EFL fixtures are released, on Wednesday June 21st.***


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