Dons versus Donny was the last fixture either side played out before the first national lockdown. Rovers won 1-0 that day but it was the complete reverse today as Russell Martin’s men defeated the Yorkshire-based outfit who have lost both their captain and manager in 2021.
Despite the rare week’s rest, Martin made wholesale changes to the side that defeated Burton Albion last Saturday. One noteworthy omission was Dean Lewington: the legendary captain made way for Zak Jules.
There was no major action until the 27th minute when Daniel Harvie crossed for Will Grigg to have a brilliant header saved by Louis Jones in the Rovers net.
Almost immediately afterwards, an eyebrow-raising substitution from the home manager saw Scott Fraser replaced by Louis Thompson and the star man did not appear to be injured. It is well-documented that the young coach is not afraid to make tactical substitutions in the first halves of games but the Dons number 10, by no means, was having an exceptionally poor game.
Louis Jones was busy again as the half was beginning to draw to a close. Harvie cut inside and struck an excellent effort from just outside the 18-yard box but Jones sprawled to tip the effort onto the post. Immediately after, Will Grigg forced another save from the young stopper following the resultant corner.
In the 41st minute, Jones did not cover himself in glory with a loose pass that was picked up by Matt O’Riley. Thompson had been closing the goalkeeper down and O’Riley let the ball run to the substitute rather than taking on the shot himself and the Norwich loanee was flagged offside: a gift not accepted by the dominant Dons.
Half-time: MK Dons 0-0 Doncaster Rovers
The second half was not even a minute old before Grigg set Thompson off on an incredible darting run into the penalty area but again, Jones was on hand to frustrate an MK Dons player.
In the 52nd minute, the hosts played themselves into trouble with O’Riley giving the ball away in his own half. The men in black played well to create a big chance: their biggest of the match at that point, but Harry Darling made a monumental block to keep the scores level.
After being a Man of the Match candidate, Jones felt like he should have done better to prevent MK Dons’ goal in the 76th minute. Harvie, after being moved to the left, cut inside onto his weaker right foot and his strike took a slight nick to bamboozle Donny’s goalkeeper and flash past him into the net.
Milton Keynes held on reasonably comfortably to secure their first clean sheet in 10 matches and make it four wins on the spin. The Dons were excellent today with the result never in doubt after Harvie’s strike.
Full-time: MK Dons 1-0 Doncaster Rovers
Man of the match: Daniel Harvie