Colchester 3-1 MK Dons: Uninspired Dons lose on the road again

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Away form continues to evade them as they were humbled 3-1 at the hands of Colchester at the Weston Home Community Stadium on Tuesday night.

Despite edging the early play, Dons fell behind to a Craig Eastmond strike after 17 minutes. Former Don Jabo Ibehre capitalised on a poor header back to Ian McLoughlin by Jordan Spence to double the lead at the break before he made amends for his error in the second half, heading the visitors back into contention.

But after missing three great chances, substitute Macauley Bonne ensured it would be six consecutive defeats on the road for Karl Robinson’s men.

After the 3-2 defeat to Bradford on Saturday, Robinson made two changes to the starting line-up, bringing in George Baldock and Ben Reeves at the expense of Daniel Powell and Izale McLeod.

Both sides should have been celebrating goals within the opening three minutes - former Don Jabo Ibehre got his eye in after just 20 seconds, testing Ian McLoughlin with a low grass-cutter, while at the other end, Patrick Bamford did brilliantly to turn Magnus Okuonghae but one-on-one with keeper Sam Walker, his strike found the keeper and was deflected away.

Both sides had further half-chances, though neither really looked like taking the lead until the 19th minute when Dons failed to fully clear the ball as it pinged around the box, and with time on the edge of the D, Craig Eastmond’s low drive clipped the inside of McLoughlin’s right-hand post, rolling across the line before crossing it at the opposite post.

Until that point, Dons had looked fairly comfortable. The trio of Ben Reeves, George Baldock and Dele Alli were linking up well and causing trouble for the Colchester midfield, and Bamford had the beating of the defence for pace.

Other than the goal, there was very little action to speak of in the opening 45 minutes. Colchester put much of their focus on attacking down their left flank, but Lee Hodson had Eastmond and Ryan Dickson covered for the most part. At the other end, Alli looked keen to take players on, but had little option but to come back on himself to pick a pass.

On the stroke of half time though, a defensive horror-show from Dons gifted Ibehre and Colchester another goal. Jordon Spence’s tame header back to McLoughlin allowed the striker to latch on to the loose ball, and while his first shot looped up into the air, Ibehre could walk the follow-up into the net, doubling the lead at the break.

Robinson made a change during the interval, replacing the dangerous looking Alli with Daniel Powell.

It could have been the final nail seconds into the second half too, when another Colchester corner rattled around the Dons area, and Okuonghae somehow played the ball across the face of goal.

Dons survived another scare when Ibehre looked through on goal, but decided to cut back on to his right foot, allowing Shaun Williams the opportunity to make a relatively easy challenge to prevent him getting the shot away.

Another change, replacing Baldock with Jason Banton, had an immediate impact for the visitors and saw them get back into the affair with 34 minutes to go. After Reeves’ clever ball round the corner, Powell, now playing on the right, forced a fine stop from Sam Walker, diving to his left to keep the strike out. And from the subsequent corner, Jordon Spence headed in to get Dons back up and running again.

And it was from another corner seven minutes later that Williams came within inches of an equaliser, clipping Gleeson’s set piece just over the top.

With the wind in their sails, Dons began to frustrate the home side with long spells of possession, but there was little fruit in front of goal.

But then Colchester substitute Macauley Bonne became the man of the moment. He should have put the game out of reach with 27 minutes of the second half gone, but just didn’t get enough on Ibehre’s ball into the area.

He had another chance to wrap it up a minute later but flashed it across goal before the chance of the half fell his way again. After Eastmond’s strike was deflected by Spence, and with McLoughlin diving for the initial effort, the goal was gaping for Bonne. But McLoughlin leapt across his line to get a hand to it.

The keeper could do nothing about the strike which put the result to bed with 12 minutes to go. Dons were caught napping for Alex Gilbey’s throw, allowing Bonne plenty of time to eye up his target. Cutting across the ball with his right boot, the ball swerved past the flat-footed McLoughlin to make it 3-1.

Lengthy injury stoppages in the remaining time made for a stop-start finale, but even seven minutes of stoppage time couldn’t help Dons get even a sniff of Walker’s goal as the turmoil on the road continues.

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 2,597 (169)

Colchester United: Walker, Wright, Dickson, Okounghae, Eastmond (Bond 77), Ibehre (Szmodics 90), Eastman, Wilson, Gilbey, Vose (Bonne 67), Garbutt

Subs not used: Cousins, Morrison, Olufemi, O’Donoghue

MK Dons: McLoughlin, Lewington, Hodson, Williams, Spence, Potter, Gleeson, Reeves (McLeod 68), Alli (Powell 46), Baldock (Banton 53), Bamford

Subs not used: Flanagan, Smith, Carruthers, Burns

Booked: Gilbey