MK Dons vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 30 October 2008
Chorley hoping for three points against his old club, should he pass a late fitness test
Two teams very much in the promotion frame clash in Milton Keynes this weekend as Tranmere Rovers take on MK Dons in their first ever trip to Stadium:MK.

Having kept four clean sheets in a row, Tranmere will be hoping for a win to keep up their unbeaten run on the road which currently stands at five games, but The Dons, managed by former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo will provide a tough test for Ronnie Moore's side.


MK Dons team profile:

Formed: 1889

Ground: Stadium: MK

Manager: Roberto Di Matteo

Nickname: The Dons

Season Finish 2007/08: 1st (Coca-Cola League Two)


Previous Meetings:

The most recent meeting between these two sides was one of the most memorable in recent years for Tranmere, as a 2-1 victory on the penultimate weekend of the season secure Tranmere's place in League One for the next season.

The match, played at the National Hockey Stadium, was Brian Little's final game in charge of Tranmere as he left the club by mutual consent the following week due to Rovers' dismal season which had left them languishing in the quarter of the table for much of it.

Rovers were heading for a 0-0 draw until the 88th minute when Partridge headed Jason McAteers free-kick into his own net to put Tranmere 1-0 up, but just moments later Izale McLeod equalised for the home side.

However, in injury time at the end of the second half, Delroy Facey broke free of the MK Dons defence and cooly slotted past the 'keeper, a goal that prompted a pitch invasion from the visiting Tranmere fans and all but relegated MK Dons from the division.

Earlier in the season, the reverse result had happened at Prenton Park when MK Dons beat Rovers 2-1.

Tranmere took the lead in the fixture on 39 minutes, Mike Jackson opening the scoring with a header at the back-post from Steven Jennings' cross.

However, just like the weekend before when Tranmere had been playing an F.A. Cup first round match against Bradford, Rovers let the 1-0 lead slip as they lost 2-1.

Firstly, Izale McLeod netted from the penalty spot straight after half-time following a silly tackle by Ian Sharps before straight from the kick-off, Jennings lost the ball and McLeod collected, burst through the defence and rounded Achterberg before scoring.

Vital Stats:

As both Wimbledon and MK Dons, Tranmere have only played the club eleven times in their history

In five trips to Wimbledon/MK Dons, Rovers have picked up one win and a draw as well as losing on three occasions

The last three games between these two sides have ended 2-1

There has only been one draw between these two sides in their eleven meetings

A clean sheet for Tranmere on Saturday would see them keep five consecutive clean sheets for the first time since the 2003/04 season, when between March 20th and April 6th Tranmere kept clean sheets against Peterborough United, Bristol City, Notts County, Wrexham and QPR

On This Day:

2003: Tranmere draw 1-1 at home to Bournemouth

1997: John Aldridge's Tranmere side are unlucky to lose 2-1 at Brammall Lane against Sheffield United

1994: Rovers batter Barnsley 6-1 at Prenton Park in Division One

Tranmere Rovers have played thirteen previous fixtures on November 1st, picking up six wins, two draws and five defeats. In those games they have scored twenty-seven goals and conceded on ninteen occasions.


The Form Book:

MK Dons last 6 home games: WLWLLW
Tranmere last 6 away games: DWWDWL

MK Dons have started the season off in indifferent form at home, having failed to win two consecutive home league games so far this campaign.

Robert Di Matteo's side started their six match sequence with a convincing 3-0 win over Yeovil Town thanks to goals from Leven (x2) and Baldock, before losing 2-1 to another team promoted from League Two last season, Peterborough United.

The Dons then lost 1-0 against Bournemouth in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy before winning 3-1 against Carlisle United, Leven again scoring twice, with Llera getting the other goal.

Tranmere's last opponents Stockport then won 2-1 at Stadium: MK before in their most recent home fixture, MK Dons won 3-1 against lowly Cheltenham Town.

In their other three home games this season, MK Dons beat Norwich City in the League Cup First Round 1-0 and then against Northampton Town, in front of over 13,000, Aaron Wilbraham scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Dons. The other game saw Swindon Town win 2-1 at Stadium: MK.

So far this season, MK Dons have played seven home league games and picked up a total of twelve points from an available twenty one thanks to four wins and three defeats.

Notable away results for the MK Dons so far this season include wins at Huddersfield (3-1), Colchester (3-0), Millwall (4-0) and Leyton Orient (2-1).

They lie in fifth place in the League One table after fourteen games having picked up twenty-five points from an available 42, thanks to eight wins, one draw and five defeats.

In the past few weeks, Tranmere's form away from home has been nothing short of brilliant, having picked up three wins and two draws from their last five games on the road.

In the first game of their six match sequence, Tranmere lost 3-1 against Leicester City, although they arguably deserved more from the match, before they travelled to Yorkshire and beat Huddersfield Town 2-1 at the Galpharm Stadium thanks to goals from Sonko and Shotton.

Rovers then drew 2-2 at Peterborough United, a game which they had led 2-0 thanks to two goals from Chris Greenacre before they were pegged back with the Posh scoring a goal in either half, whilst Rovers then travelled to Carlisle United and put in an excellent display to earn a comfortable 2-1 win.

A 1-0 win over Leyton Orient was then secured thanks to an excellent long-range effort from Chris Shuker before Tranmere drew 0-0 in their most recent away game at Stockport on Tuesday night.

In their other two away games this season, Tranmere lost 3-1 to Swindon Town in the League and were beaten 2-0 in the League Cup by Grimsby Town.

Away from home this season, Tranmere have so far played seven matches and picked up eleven points from an available 21 thanks to three wins, two draws and two defeats.

Notable results at Prenton Park for Tranmere Rovers this season include wins against Northampton Town (4-1), Cheltenham Town (2-0) and Hartlepool United.

Rovers come into this match lying in tenth place in the League One table with 23 points from an available 42 thanks to seven wins, two draws and five defeats from their opening thirteen games.

Double Hit:

Two current Tranmere players have played for MK Dons in recent years, with defenders Ben Chorley and Gareth Edds both joining Rovers from the southern club, whilst there is one player on the books at MK Dons who once played for Tranmere, and it is he who will be featured in this section today.

Midfielder started his career at Liverpool where he was a promising youngster capable of playing in either midfield or defence.

He signed his first professional contract with the club in August 2000, and spent two spells out on loan at Crewe, one during the 2000/01 season and the other the following year.

However, despite making a total of seventeen appearances and scoring once for The Alex, he couldn't get in the Liverpool first team and moved out on loan again to Tranmere.

At Prenton Park, Navarro thoroughly impressed. He made four appearances and scored twice in his one month loan spell, enough to convince Dave Watson to splash the cash on the player as he signed permanently for a fee of £225,000.

After signing for Rovers though, Navarro's form dipped, largely due to a horrific knee injury which has proved to be a big set-back in his career and without doubt harmed his development as a footballer.

That injury limited Navarro to just 48 more appearances for Tranmere over three years, and in September 2005 he joined Accrington Stanley on a free transfer, having spent time on loan at Chester and Macclesfield in the previous twelve months.

He spent just one month at Accrington before being snapped up Macclesfield Town, where Navarro would become a pivital player in Paul Ince's side that somehow avoided relegation against all the odds the following season.

After making 71 appearances for The Silkmen over a two year period, Navarro followed manager Ince to MK Dons, where he starred in the teams promotion from League Two last season.

He has now made 61 appearances for the Dons and scored three goals, whilst this season Navarro has made fourteen appearances for the club.

Now aged 27, Navarro is beginning to re-find that potential that he showed from a young age before he suffered that injury. As a central-midfielder, he is a key player in the MK Dons team and offers both attacking and defensive play.


One To Watch: Peter Leven

Free-scoring midfielder Peter Leven is MK Don's leading scorer so far this season with five goals who signed for the club at the start of the season.

Scottish born Leven started his career with Glasgow Rangers as a schoolboy before joining Kilmarnock where he progressed greatly as a player and became a regular selection for the club.

Between 2004 and 2007, Leven made 75 appearances for the club and scored six goals before joining Chesterfield on a free transfer in 2007.

After being made the Chesterfield captain, Leven went on to become a popular player with the Spireites, making 44 appearances and scoring five goals whilst at Saltergate.

However, after the club failed to gain promotion last season, he left, signing for MK Dons on a free-transfer in time for the start of this campaign.

Since joining the Stadium: MK club, he has made fifteen appearances and already scored five goals, with the Dons winning all three of the games he has scored in.

Aged twenty-five, Leven is an attacking midfield who likes to push forward in attempt to score and create goals for his team.

He wears the number twenty-two shirt for MK Dons and has plenty of pace to go with a good engine, meaning he is quite capable of getting from box to box through-out the game.

Around League One:

Tranmere Rovers may be tenth in the League One table, but they are only two points off the play-offs and three points off third placed Leeds United, showing just how tight the League One table is this season.

A win on Saturday for Rovers would put them one point above MK Dons, who could slip as low as eleventh with a defeat, whilst Tranmere will be hoping results elsewhere go their way as they hope to be in the play-offs by the end of the weekend.

Table topping Scunthorpe United take on mid-table Swindon at the weekend, and a win for them would keep them ahead of second placed Millwall, who are level on points with The Iron, who have a superior goal difference.

Millwall themselves face a tricky away trip to Brighton, who this week signed striker Stuart Fleetwood on loan from Charlton after his loan deal at Cheltenham expired, whilst third placed Leeds are away to Cheltenham and are looking to close the three point gap between themselves and the top two clubs.

Sixth placed Leicester City host Bristol Rovers at the Walkers Stadium whilst fourth placed Oldham, who has suffered a slump in form of late, take on struggling Yeovil Town.


Team News:

Ronnie Moore has a number of fitness worries for this game, with Ian Goodison and Ben Chorley both doubts having picked up knocks in the mid-week 0-0 draw against Stockport, Goodison being forced off by his injury in the dying moments of the game. Left-back Andy Taylor is suspended having been sent off in that match, meaning one of Gareth Edds or Aaron Cresswell could play at left-back, whilst Craig Curran remains out with a stomach muscle injury.

Jones' Prediction: MK Dons 1-1 Tranmere Rovers

This will be a tough test for Tranmere and one in which they can truely prove whether they are capable of challanging for promotion this season. MK Dons are a team capable of scoring plenty of goals and although they do tend to leak them at the other end, Rovers could well be in danger of losing by some margin should Goodison and Chorley both miss out, as well as Andy Taylor.

The key for Tranmere is to keep things tight in midfield. With Jennings, Kay and Edds all in the centre in recent weeks, Rovers have been able to do this, stiffling opposition attacks and getting the balls out to the wingers.

Chris Shuker again needs to be on the ball as much as possible as he poses Tranmere's biggest threat with his pace, crossing ability and new found confidence, whilst if Tranmere can keep getting the ball to Bas Savage in the penalty area, on the floor or in the air, then he will test the goalkeeper.

With the possibility of Rovers having a very inexperienced backline, it is key that Danny Coyne communicates as much as possible with his backline, whilst Antony Kay, if in midfield, must get back and support his defenders.

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