LUKE Chadwick scored twice as Dons hammered Colchester United 5-1 at stadium:mk, but all the talk from the fans was about Patrick Bamford’s sensational debut.
A drab opening 25 minutes was forgotten when the teenager, on loan from Chelsea, slipped in Chadwick to score the opener, before he was scythed down for a penalty eight minutes before the half time break – Shaun Williams doing the business from 12 yards.
Jon Otsemobor headed Dons 3-0 to the good in the second half, before Ian Henderson netted for the visitors.
Chadwick added his second and Dons’ fourth two minutes later as Bamford turned provide once more, before his replacement Ryan Lowe added a brilliant fifth goal to lift Dons up to second place in the League 1 table.
Bamford was the surprise inclusion in Karl Robinson’s starting line-up against Colchester, with the 19-year-old striker having only signed on loan on Thursday from Chelsea. Stephen Gleeson took over the captain’s armband in the absence of regular skipper Dean Lewington, who couldn’t shake off a late knock picked up in the 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury on Tuesday night.
On loan hitman Jabo Ibehre was ineligible to play against Dons as part of his deal at the Colchester Community Stadium. Former Dons loanee Clinton Morrison started up-front.
Late goals have become Dons’ forte lately, with three vital strikes coming within the last five minutes of their last three League 1 games. So perhaps that was the reason for their patient start to Saturday’s game.
They saw most of the ball for the opening 15 minutes, without really creating anything dangerous, though Dean Bowditch pulled the trigger from 25 yards which skipped off the wet surface and went wide, and new boy Bamford benefitted from a stray United pass on the edge of the box, but couldn’t keep his effort down.
As the persistent rain continued to fall, the atmosphere and the game were in danger of falling completely flat as neither side looked threatening in the final third. But Chadwick finally gave the home fans something to cheer about after 28 minutes when he linked up well with Bowditch and then Bamford to slip one past John Sullivan in the Colchester net to open the scoring.
Bamford played a key part in the second goal nine minutes before half time too – he looked to be clean through on goal as he raced onto Chadwick’s pass, but the teenager was cut down inside the box by Tom Eastman, leaving referee Darren Deadman with no choice but to award the penalty, which Williams duly dispatched to make it 2-0.
And it really should have been 3-0 and game over at the break when Darren Potter’s neat pass through the centre made its way to Angelo Balanta, but with only the keeper to beat, he spooned his shot high over the bar with the goal gaping.
The message at half time from Robinson was clearly ‘finish them off’ as Dons burst out raring to go in the second period. Bamford, who looked increasingly more impressive with every touch, was just inches away from sliding in Chadwick’s low cross, and Bowditch too came close to nudging in a third but was closed down quickly by Sullivan.
Dons finally got their third on the hour mark, and it came from an unlikely source as Otsemobor rose highest to powerfully head home Bowditch’s corner from the left, before being piled on by his team-mates.
Colchester did manage to make a mark on the game two minutes later though, almost spurred on by the fact that they were out of the game, as Henderson capitalised on some slack defending to hammer home.
But as they looked to get another, they were caught short at the back as Bamford picked Eastman’s pocket on halfway, raced clear of the defender and slipped in Chadwick, who coolly rolled home Dons’ fourth.
Things went from bad to worse for Colchester as half-time substitute Gavin Massey was shown a straight red card for a dreadful challenge on Adam Chicksen as he broke down the left.
With 22 minutes remaining, Bamford was given a standing ovation from the stadium:mk crowd when he was replaced by Lowe. The Chelsea teenager played a key part in three of Dons’ four goals, and looked desperate to add his own name to the scoresheet to endear himself to his new home fans.
And the fans got a glimpse of another teenage loan star as Chadwick was replaced by Wolves prospect Zeli Ismail, and he was immediately put to work, skinning full-back Dan Potts to win a corner.
The icing was firmly piped onto the cake when Lowe was given time and space 20 yards out to bend in a beauty, leaving Sullivan a mere spectator as the ball sailed into the top corner. He continued to torment Potts for the rest of the game.
Robinson threw a third teenage loan star into the mix when Ibra Sekajja was introduced with six minutes to go.
If ever there was a message to send to London ahead of next Sunday’s eagerly anticipated clash FA Cup with AFC Wimbledon, this was it – a thoroughly dominant performance, with goals coming in from all quarters.
And while eyes may be focussed on that game, Dons climbed into the second automatic promotion spot. Not bad for an afternoon’s work.
Referee: Darren Deadman
MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Chicksen, Kay, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch (Sekajja 84), Chadwick (Ismail 77), Balanta, Bamford (Lowe 67)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, MacDonald, Doumbe, Galloway
Colchester United: Sullivan, Okuonghae, Morrison, Sears, Bond (Massey 45), Henderson, Eastman (Bean 68), Wilson, Wordsworth, Eastmond (Thompson 68), Potts
Subs not used: Cousins, Rose, Duguid, White
Booked: Eastman, Okuonghae, Morrison, Thompson
Sent off: Massey