Tranmere Rovers look to get back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon as they play host to MK Dons.
The fixture will be a chance to remember the great life of former Chairman Peter Johnson, who very sadly passed away this week and forward Rob Apter will once again play in front of the SWA after putting pen to paper on Friday afternoon, extending his loan spell until the end of the season.
The Whites were narrowly beaten last time out as they travelled to Barrow A.F.C, Rovers four game unbeaten run coming to an end. However, Nigel Adkins’ side have won their past five games on the Wirral this will be hoping that they can extend it to a sixth.
Mike Williamson’s MK will be looking to get back to winning ways themselves as they were heavily beaten on New Year’s Day against Doncaster Rovers.
Ahead of the game, I spoke to MK supporter Peter Duffy.
Hi, when did you start supporting MK? What was your first experience of the club like?
I got into football later in life through my son’s playing and a friend invited us to watch MK Dons. I had a choice between games against Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town and picked Yeovil. Little did I know it would be the game that saw us promoted to the Championship. It was, I think, the last time Dele (Alli) played for us and I think the final score was 5-1. A pitch invasion happened at the end due to the promotion.
I started going maybe once a month initially with the family thereafter and we quickly got hooked and became season ticket holders.
In recent years, now my sons are older, we’ve been going home and away whenever we can.
So, an amazing first experience and great to see us in the Championship but of course it’s been a bit down and up since!
What have been some of your best and worst moments following the Dons?
Best: That promotion to the Championship was a great start, promotions from League Two, most of the recent season where we just missed promotion back to the Championship as we had an amazing team that season.
Worst: Getting relegated again to League Two was a blow after the high of the previous season being one result off promotion to the Championship. We were also only one result off staying in League One.
Mk’s head coach is the young Mike Williamson, appointed last year after his impressive stint at Gateshead in which he guided the club to promotion from the National League North. What are your thoughts on the former Newcastle player? How would you describe his playing style?
He had an amazing run after coming in, lost his first but had had almost no time prior, then went on an unbeaten streak that was only ended with the recent defeat to Doncaster. I like him, he seems to do things differently and I suspect is a hit particularly with young players, even little things like coming out for the warmups with his team which you don’t see very often.
On the playing style, Mike has set the team up to play attractive football but at the same time we have stopped leaking goals. We play through the thirds really well and the introduction of Jack Payne in the pivot role has been genius. Expect to see lots of direct running and fast interplay, it’s definitely more exciting than the start of the season!
MK’s Chairman is Pete Winkelman. What are your thoughts on the way he runs the club?
Pete has taken a lot of stick over the years for how we were formed but I feel he has always acted in the best interests of the club, he’s made mistakes but he owns them and fronts them up with the fans.
An example of the great things he’s done is to have secured the MK Bowl as a training ground, and venue, which I have no doubt will be a first class facility once we can complete the work. This will really benefit the club in terms of helping attract players and also obviously an additional means to generate revenue. The commercial setup
should mean the club can be sustainable.
We’ve definitely had a few setbacks footballing wise, but which club hasn’t?
MK’s Captain is 39-year-old centre-half Dean Lewington, he has made 773 appearances for the club after making the move from Wimbledon to MK when the club was formed. It must be pretty cool to have him around still!
It is amazing, and for him to be straight back on the team sheet after injury at his age just shows how he is still performing, despite his age. He’s been such a loyal servant of the club and is loved by fans. I’m sure he’s had offers to go elsewhere but has stuck with us, no doubt taking plenty of flack along the way for doing so, given how he stayed loyal with the club through the move. He’s been caretaker manager as well for short periods when we’ve had our various managerial changes. He’s so important and I hope he’ll stay involved for
many years to come and look forward to the stand naming and statue, which no doubt he’ll hate!
The Dons were relegated from League One last season, finishing the campaign in 21st position. What went wrong and what has happened since to help sort the issues out?
We’d got the recruitment wrong after almost getting promoted. We’d lost the likes of Scott Twine and Harry Darling and loans like Troy Parrott, Connor Coventry, and Jamie Cumming. With that team it’s almost a crime we didn’t get promoted. We then tried to recruit young talents to replace them and the replacements and loanees just weren’t good enough. We eventually changed manager which wasn’t going to make up for the lack of talent and relegation was the end result, only by a result, but that wasn’t much consolation !
MK recently recalled Dan Kemp back from his great time on loan at Swindon Town. As well as top scorer Max Dean who has netted nine goals, how would you describe the team’s strong points? Could you give us a little bit of a scout report on Kemp and Dean as the Rovers defence will need to come out on top!
It’s really hard to judge Dan Kemp, as I don’t think he’s had a fair chance with us. He does seem to love to take the defence on and cut inside, something we have seen a lot of under Mike Williamson.
As for Dean, he’s a handful and a tricky one at that. He works hard and he has real talent, he’s been our standout since Mike came in.
MK were beaten 3-0 away at Doncaster Rovers on New Year’s Day but beat Tranmere 1-0 in the last meeting between the two clubs as Mo Eisa struck early in mid August. Are you confident that MK can return to winning ways? What went wrong against Doncaster? All three goals were scored inside the first half.
I’m very confident, particularly with some additions coming in in January. I think we see Doncaster as a “blip”, they have been a bit of a bogey team for us anyway and with the run we’d been on, there’s no reason to doubt the team after one poor performance and result.
What are your thoughts on Tranmere? The Rovers’ great unbeaten run, ten games long, came to an end on Saturday away at Barrow thus they will be looking to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
I have always seen Tranmere as a strong and competitive side, especially when we play each other.
The permanent appointment of Adkins seems to have had a really positive effect and there have been some very good results on a run. He’s clearly very passionate about the club, as l believe was demonstrated in the Notts County game!
You were on a very strong run, like us, so our game should be one to look forward to.
Tranmere have won their last five home games, they will be hoping that they can extend it to six on Saturday afternoon.