Cheltenham 3-1 MK Dons: Back-to-back defeats for Dons

Match report
Match report

MK Dons were stunned by lowly Cheltenham as they were beaten 3-1 at Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Boxing Day.

Having lost to Colchester four days prior, Dons were behind after 15 minutes when Nigel Atangana headed home the opener. Chuks Aneke equalised seven minutes later, but after a host of chances for the home side, but Tyrone Barnett's header on the stroke of half time restored Cheltenham's lead. Ryan Watson missed a sitter late in the second half in what was Dons best chance of the half, before Chris Clements added a killer third with five minutes to go.

The silver lining perhaps for Paul Tisdale was promotion rivals Lincoln City and Colchester both losing too, meaning they remain four points behind the League 2 leaders.

After suffering their first home defeat of the campaign on Saturday, Dons made one change to the team which started against Colchester, with Chuks Aneke returning in place of Rhys Healey. Osman Sow was missing from the subs bench, replaced by David Kasumu.

That first loss though was perhaps still playing on Dons' minds in the opening exchanges as they fell behind. Having already forced Lee Nicholls into a reaction save early on, Nigel Atangana arrived on time to power home Alex Addai's cross from the right, leaving the keeper with no chance to head Cheltenham in front.

The lead though would last just seven minutes as Dons responded well. After a poor Dean Lewington free kick sailed out of play, the visitors continued to keep the pressure on and despite protests from the home side for a push in the build-up, Chuks Aneke rose above the defence to head home Alex Gilbey's cross.

The end-to-end nature of the game led to a cracking atmosphere, with the home fans certainly feeling aggrieved by Dons' equaliser. And they felt let down by the referee again when Addai, who had already missed a sitter, appeared to go down under pressure from George Williams when he got a clean sight of goal, only shooting wide.

But Cheltenham would have the last laugh before half time, retaking the lead in almost a mirror image of their opener. Chris Hussey and Sam Jones combined to cross for Tyrone Barnett to powerfully head the Robins back in front.

Tisdale reverted to a more traditional back four for the second period, with Houghton pushed forwards into his more recognised central midfield position. But he was joined by Ryan Watson and Peter Pawlett on the hour mark as they replaced Ouss Cisse and Lawson D'Ath in a bid to get back on level terms.

But the home side were proving much better than their 21st in the league appeared. Chris Hussey struck a fierce effort into the side netting, before Atangana saw his effort hit Barnett on it's way to goal, and substitute Robbie Simpson then headed off the line after yet another big Cheltenham header in the area.

With their formation change making little difference in proceedings, Cheltenham began to sit back and allowed Dons to revert back to their back three. Dons best chance of the half came with six minutes to go, but Ryan Watson missed from barely 10 yards, bending Gilbey's cross over the top. And he was made to pay as barely a minute later, Cheltenham wrapped up the three points when Chris Clements rolled in their third.

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 3,266

Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Hussey, Tozer, Atangana, Thomas, Boyle, Addai (Dawson 88), Forster, Jones (Varney 82), Clements, Barnett

Subs not used: Mullins, Lovett, Mooney, Alcock, Brennan

MK Dons: Nicholls, Cargill, Houghton, Williams, Lewington, McGrandles, Gilbey, Cisse (Watson 60), D'Ath (Pawlett 60), Agard (Simpson 71), Aneke

Subs not used: Moore, Hancox, Kasumu, Healey

Booked: Duff, Aneke, Clements, Cisse