A lackluster MK Dons limped to their first home defeat of the season on Tuesday night, losing 1-0 to Carlisle in disappointing fashion.
Void of the pace, passion and desire which saw them win 3-2 on Saturday against Rotherham, the home side struggled to make any decent in roads into the Cumbrians through the 90 minutes.
Even former Dons midfielder Lewis Guy’s spectacular volley after 34 minutes couldn’t inspire Karl Robinson’s men into a higher gear, and it was enough to settle it for the visiting side.
David Martin and Stephen Gleeson were the two noticable absentees from Karl Robinson’s starting line-up, both out after picking up knocks against Rotherham on Saturday. Ben Reeves and Jason Banton kept their place in the side, while Samir Carruthers started in the hole behind goal-machine Patrick Bamford.
Among the Carlisle starting 11 were three players to have pulled on a Dons shirt in their time - Sean O’Hanlon, Lewis Guy and David Amoo.
After a dramatic 90 minutes on Saturday against Rotherham, the opening 30 minutes on Tuesday against Carlisle were stark contrast. Though Dons saw effectively all of the ball, their finishing lacked conviction and there was no passion shown from either side. Daniel Powell sent two half-chances wide of the mark, as did Darren Potter.
With Dons comfortably on top, the game needed something inject a bit of excitement into the affair, and it came courtesy of two former Dons linking up to give Carlisle a 34th minute lead. A deep cross into the centre sailed over the head of Lewis Guy, but came to David Amoo at the far post. Amoo shaped to shoot, but his acrobatic volley attempt looked to be going well wide of the mark. Guy though swung a leg at it, connecting beautifully around waist-height, sending it sailing into the net.
But rather than kick Dons into gear, they still persisted with their patient approach, which the crowd grew ever-more frustrated with. Jason Banton forced Mark Gillespie into a save diving to his right, while Samir Carruthers had a good dipping effort well saved by the Carlisle keeper before the break.
The half time interval did little to fire up the home side though, and Carlisle should have extended their lead six minutes into the second half when Matt Robson’s cross found Conor Townsend unmarked in the middle, but the defender couldn’t direct his header goalwards.
It took Robinson just eight minutes to ring the changes - Banton, Carruthers and Lee Hodson all made way for Izale McLeod, Luke Chadwick and George Baldock in a bid to inject some drive to the side.
And it almost did just five minutes later, but McLeod’s header was just wide of the upright.
But a second half downpour, with a lightning show added in for good measure, didn’t help Dons’ passing game much, effectively eliminating the pace of Baldock and Powell operating down the flanks.
For all their possession and territory, Dons barely troubled keeper Gillespie. McLeod and Bamford both had headers wide of the mark, while the latter and Reeves both saw efforts sailing into the seats behind the goal.
Carlisle could have wrapped it up with four minutes to go when Danny Livesey crashed one against the crossbar when a corner wasn’t fully cleared, but it was as close as either side would come in the entire game.
The defeat sees Dons drop to 10th in League 1, when a victory could have seen them up in the play-off spots.
Dons take on Tranmere on Saturday.
Referee: Andy D’Urso
MK Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Lewington, Flanagan, Hodson (Baldock 53), Potter, Reeves, Powell, Banton (McLeod 53), Carruthers (Chadwick 53), Bamford
Subs not used: Burns, Smith, Galloway, Rasulo
Carlisle: Gillespie, Townsend, Robson, Amoo, Noble, Thirlwell, Potts (Miller 84), O’Hanlon, Guy (Symington 63), McSweeney (Livesey 53), Chimbonda
Subs not used: Fleming, Gillies, Beck, Eccleston
Booked: Thirlwell, Potter