KARL Robinson was made to watch the second half from the stands after his protests at the interval in Dons’ 1-0 win over Colchester United.
The first half passed without much incident at stadium:mk. While Dons looked well on top, neither keeper was forced into a save. But a series of questionable refereeing decisions incensed Robinson and saw him sent to the stands after he marched onto the pitch to tell Carl Berry just what he thought. Without the manager in the dugout, Gary MacKenzie headed Dons into a 53rd minute lead
Angelo Balanta’s loan deal expired on New Year’s Day and he returned to parent club Queens Park Rangers. Luke Chadwick returned from suspension to replace the winger, but another loan player, Adam Smith, picked up his fifth booking of the season on Saturday against Brentford, promoting Shaun Williams to the starting line-up.
It was a slow but steady start to the game. Neither side really had a chance to speak of in the opening 10 minutes, but it was the home side that looked in control, winning a handful of corners though they couldn’t take advantage as keeper Ben Williams remained unchallenged in the Colchester net.
Dons’ first real sight of goal came 18 minutes in when Jabo Ibehre neatly turned his man on halfway before breaking powerfully down the right flank. Spotting Chadwick unmarked on the far side, Ibehre picked him out brilliantly with the cross, but the former Manchester United man couldn’t control his header and it went well wide. Dean Bowditch came close four minutes later when he found space again down the right, but his shot from the corner of the area flashed just wide of the post.
David Martin remained largely untested in the first half. Colchester struggled to get a foothold in the game and despite a handful of free kicks just inside the Dons half, didn’t have the defence under any pressure. Their stand-off approach to the game allowed Mathias Doumbe and Dean Lewington to join in more frequently with the attacks as the home side continued to dominate with little to show for it.
But tempers flared in stoppage time when another dubious free kick was given Colchester’s way – this time right on the edge of the penalty area. Steven Gillespie blazed the kick over the bar, but referee Carl Berry’s one-sided approach to the game infuriated the Dons boss, who marched onto the pitch to voice his opinion to the man in black. And he didn’t reappear on the touchline for the second half – sent to the stands for his protests.
But despite his lack of presence in the dugout, it took his side just eight minutes to edge their way in front.
Chadwick won a corner after a good break down the left, and it was Gary MacKenzie who met Bowditch’s deep corner at the far post to put the home side ahead. Dons continued to keep the pressure on the visitors, as Chadwick stung the gloves of Williams.
The referee continued the second half as he finished the first, ignoring a series of rash Colchester challenges and what looked like a clear handball in the penalty area from a Bowditch shot as Robinson boiled in the stands.
Dons looked by far the better team and had a great chance to double the lead when Shaun Williams’ free kick was only half saved by Williams but the follow-up was just out of reach of MacDonald. And the striker could have had another when Bowditch once again broke down the right and put it on a plate for MacDonald, but his clever flick fell just wide of the post.
The home side looked threatening with every attack, with Bowditch continuing his fine run of form by putting in another breathless performance on the flank. And he too could’ve added his name to the score sheet when he turned neatly in the box, but his quick strike was straight at Williams.
David Martin remained unchallenged throughout, and could do nothing but watch as Andy Bond blazed over with nine minutes to go – just about Colchester’s only chance of the game and even then a half chance at best.
Substitute Daniel Powell was introduced to terrorise the defence late on and he forced Williams into a terrific save deep into stoppage time as Dons comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to wrap up a successful Christmas period. With results around them also going their way, Dons moved back up to fourth place.
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe, MacKenzie, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Chadwick, Bowditch, Ibehre, MacDonald (Powell, 81)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Collins, O’Shea
Colchester: Williams, Okuonghae, Gillespie, Bond, Odejayi (Coker, 60), Henderson, Eastman, Wilson, James (Izzet, 71), White, Duguid
Subs not used: Rose, Baldwin, O’Toole
Booked: Doumbe, Okuonghae, Gillespie, Potter, Lewington