Six defeats in a row as Dons are downed by Derby County

SO CLOSE - Simon Church is denied against Derby County (Picture: Jane Russell)
SO CLOSE - Simon Church is denied against Derby County (Picture: Jane Russell)

MK Dons suffered yet more cruel luck as they were beaten 3-1 at home by Derby County despite having the better of play.

The Dons failed to make the most of their first half chances and were duly punished when Bradley Johnson slotted the visitors ahead.

Josh Murphy’s first league goal for the Dons bought them back on level terms.

But it was Paul Clement’s visitors who claimed the three points, with Darren Bent and Tom Ince grabbing the strikes. It means that MK Dons have now lost six in a row in all competitions.

After five consecutive defeats culminated in a midweek thrashing by Southampton, Karl Robinson was looking for an end to recent misfortune.

Standing in the way were a Derby County side that have spent big in the summer, with a number of their big money summer signings starting this contest. To try and combat this, Robinson gave one of his recent new boys a debut, with loan signing Jake Forster-Caskey in from the start after signing on loan from Brighton on Tuesday.

The early stages of the contest saw both teams have moments of possession retention, but very few clear opportunities, and many examples of the final ball failing to find a teammate.

The Dons did have early opportunities, with Antony Kay heading over at a corner, and defensive blocks denying shots by Carl Baker and Ben Reeves. But it was Dons’ keeper David Martin with the first stop, as he denied Chris Martin.

But the Dons thought the early pressure paid off when Simon Church received a precise through-ball and scored. However, the offside flag was raised, and the goal didn’t count.

Church was getting some chances, but he was then denied again. He saw an overhead kick saved by Scott Carson, and then saw a rebound deflected over.

Derby did have a good chance only for Chris Martin to find his namesake’s foot instead of the goal. The Dons were having the best of the positive play, but were unable to turn their chances into goals.

The Dons did begin the second half strongly, but as has happened a number of times recently, the Dons were unable to turn chances into goals, and their opponents made them pay.

This time, a slick move down the left saw Stephen Warnock’s cross land for Johnson, whose powerful first time shot landed in the bottom corner for his first goal since his deadline day move from Norwich.

But the Dons were back on level terms just seven minutes after conceding. A precise attacking move saw Forster-Caskey’s find Church, who crossed to Murphy. It looked as though it was overrun, but the Norwich loanee controlled the ball before and slammed it into the bottom corner.

The combination then nearly worked again. A terrible backpass was intercepted by Church, but after drawing out Carson, the Welsh striker chose to try and pass to Murphy for a tap-in. Instead, the ball went to the side of Murphy and out of play.

MK Dons then came close again, when a corner found Dean Lewington at the back-stick only for his header to be deflected onto the crossbar.

There then came a moment of agitation, when Murphy went down under the attentions of Carson in the box. But after taking a while to reach a decision, the referee chose to book the Dons winger for diving.

Derby almost rubbed salt into the wounds, but after being found in good space, Tom Ince’s low effort drifted wide.

Much closer was Johnny Russell. The Derby striker saw an effort from distance zip past Martin, but not his crossbar, and the ball bounced back into play.

But just as the game seemed to be drifting to a stalemate, Derby found a way through. After building up down the left flank, Warnock’s cross found Bent, and the former England international had a very straight-forward finish.

The Dons’ best chance to level almost came through a Ram, when Carson fumbled a corner but Jason Shackell cleared off the line. As if that wasn’t enough, Ince then nicked the ball off a Dons defender before slotting home to wrap up the points.

It was another harsh day on the Dons, who had more possession and more than twice as many chances as their guests. But it was another defeat for the Dons, who sink to their sixth defeat in a row.

Match facts

MK Dons: D. Martin – Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington – Poyet, Forster-Caskey – Baker (Bowditch 85), Reeves (Hall 79), Murphy – Church (Maynard 67)

Goal: Murphy (60)

Derby: Carson – Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock – Johnson, Baird (Hendrick 68), Butterfield (Weimann 62) – Ince, C. Martin (Bent 79), Russell

Goals: Johnson (53), Bent (89), Ince (90+5)

Attendance: 13,554