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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 1 Rovers 2

Armstrong brace seals the points for Rovers at Stadium MK to send Mowbray's men top of the table

2 April 2018

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An Adam Armstrong first half double was enough to send Rovers to the League One summit for a couple of hours at least after a hard fought win against MK Dons.

Both strikes came at lovely times for Armstrong who scored his eighth in Rovers colours early into the game before completing his brace - and ninth for the club - just before half time.

But Peter Pawlett steered a header in to make things nervy for the visitors, who defended bravely to ensure another priceless three points returned with them to Lancashire.

Boss Tony Mowbray made three changes from the team which started against Bradford, with experienced duo Charlie Mulgrew and Danny Graham returning, whilst Paul Downing also came into the starting XI after coming on for Darragh Lenihan on Thursday.

Lenihan himself didn't make the squad after picking up that back injury on the night, whilst Dominic Samuel and Amari'i Bell dropped to the bench.

Mulgrew mad his 400th career apearance and came into the game hoping to continue his fine form against the Dons having bagged a brace against them at Ewood Park at the start of the season.

Fellow defender Downing began against his former employers and de his 250th career league appearance.

Defender Elliott Ward was ineligible against his parent club, and the defender was part of two changes for the hosts, with fellow loanee Ethan Ebanks-Landell coming into the side and Callum Brittain playing in place of Kieran Agard.

A really positive start resulted in Armstrong firing wide and Marcus Antonsson skewing past Lee Nicholls' right-hand post inside the opening 90 seconds of the game.

The fine start was rewarded with another goal for in form striker Armstrong, who latched onto an exquisite ball over the top from the returning Graham and unleashed a superb, low effort beyond the despairing dive of Nicholls.

It took 20 minutes for the Dons to respond and it came through Pawlett, who advanced from midfield, shimmied past Downing but couldn't beat David Raya with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

At the other end, Armstrong called Nicholls into action with a strong attempt which the home stopper grabbed at the second attempt.

Raya produced a spectacular stop to deny Chuks Aneke from snatching an equaliser when the striker got on the end of an Ed Upson free kick just a moment later as the hosts came into the game more.

George Williams caught a strike well a minute afterwards but his shot flew past Raya's left-hand post as the home side had an encouraging five minute spell.

Just a couple of minutes before half time and again Armstrong was the dangerman as he unleashed another left-footed effort towards goal and again made Nicholls work, with the goalkeeper saving his attempt.

But Nicholls wasn't that fortunate a moment later when Armstrong beat him for a second time, checking back on his left foot after confidently beating Dean Lewington before rolling past Nicholls and into the net just a minute before the break.

Early in the second half, Aneke nodded over the bar after getting on the end of substitute Scott Golbourne's left wing cross, as the hosts came out of the blocks the quickest.

Golbourne was one of two changes at the break as Dan Micchiche changed things up in terms of personnel and formation, with Ousseynou Cisse and Muirhead being replaced by ex-Bristol City man Golbourne and Kieran Agard.

Armstrong was absolutely flying and after he picked out Graham with a pinpoint pass, the Rovers number 10 couldn't get the ball out of his feet and the danger was cleared.

Raya produced a brilliant save to deny Pawlett with 22 minutes remaining as the hosts searched for a way back into the game.

But Pawlett got lucky just a few minutes later as the Scot nipped in to glance a header past Raya from close range after Agard's cross from the right.

The goal gave the Buckinghamshire side hope but Rovers could and should have put the game beyond doubt with seven minutes left but after being played in, substitute Samuel could only curl over the upright when just having Nicholls to beat.

Raya produced another fabulous save from Pawlett as the home side pressed for that equaliser, but Rovers were defending well enough and throwing bodies in the way as the hosts tried pot shots from range.

But the visitors held firm for another vital three-point haul and move to the top of the table again.

Rovers are next in action on Saturday 7th April when Southend United visit Ewood Park. Kick-off is at 3pm and you can purchase your tickets by clicking here.

MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington (c), Wootton, Upson, Cisse (Agard, 46), Aneke, Pawlett, Muirhead (Golbourne, 46), Ebanks-Landell, Brittain.

Unused substitutes: Sietsma, Reo-Coker, McGrandles, Ugbo.

Goal: Pawlett, 72

Booked: Pawlett, 79

Rovers: Raya, Bennett, Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Evans, Armstrong, Dack, Antonsson (Payne, 52), Graham.

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Samuel, Whittingham, Bell, Conway, Caddis.

Goals: Armstrong, 11, 44

Attendance: 11,215

Booked: Williams, 74.

Referee: Kevin Friend.

 


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