Colchester United 0-2 MK Dons: Dons do what they need to but hopes are fading

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Dons’ play-off hopes hang by a thread despite winning 2-0 against Colchester United on Tuesday night.

Most of the highlights of the game came from the home side, but Powell’s 11th minute strike gave Dons the early edge. But the home side weren’t giving up without a fight. Twice they hit the woodwork, and Ian McLoughlin needed to be at his best to keep out Gavin Massey. Patrick Bamford made sure of the win 13 minutes from time as he converted for his third of the season.

Despite picking up three points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Swindon’s comfortable victory over Crewe Alexandra means Karl Robinson’s men are still four points off the top six with just two games to go.

Stephen Gleeson was back in the team, both Daniel Powell and Luke Chadwick returned to the starting line-up, with Adam Chicksen missing out through injury, while Chris Lines and Ryan Lowe dropped to the bench. After facing former team-mate Charlie MacDonald against Leyton Orient on Saturday, Karl Robinson’s men faced more familiar faces in the Colchester line-up, with Jabo Ibehre starting up front for United and Clinton Morrison making the substitutes bench.

Dons started out with their usual penchant for slick passing, but it was the home side who had the better chances in the opening 10 minutes, both falling to the centre halves. First, Magnus Okuonghae put over from inside the six yard box after Dons failed to clear a corner, and then John White headed Freddie Sears’ free kick over the top.

But a from that White header, Dons broke and took the lead on 11 minutes. Dean Lewington picked the ball up on half way, slid the ball inside to Chadwick, who picked a perfect ball through to Powell who raced clear. With all the time in the world, Powell picked his spot in the opposite corner, leaving Sam Walker with no chance.

It could’ve been two seconds later too, but the keeper made a terrific stop to tip another Powell strike just over the top.

Dons weren’t the only ones to play some nice, passing football though as Colchester made the visiting midfield work hard to get a touch of the ball. The runs of Massey and Sears were causing trouble as they floated between the defence and the Potter-Gleeson pair

Colchester almost pulled level after 25 minutes when Massey picked up the ball on the edge of the box, squaring up Mathias Doumbe before firing in low. His shot took a wicked deflection off the defender, but fortunately for him and Ian McLoughlin, the touch took it into the side netting.

It was another defensive touch which had McLoughlin scrambling back to his line, as a long ball was headed up into the air by Shaun Williams. Luckily again, the ball dropped onto the top of the cross bar. From the resultant corner, Sears was allowed time to turn and strike, but saw his strike hit the upright. The home side continued to turn the screw, with Ibehre hitting the support post behind the goal with another easily won header over Doumbe.

Colchester continued to dominate the half, with McLoughlin making another fine save before the break, keeping his side in front as they went in at half time.

Dons suffered a blow five minutes into the second half as Lewington and Ibehre came together in an innocuous looking tackle, but it left the Dons skipper requiring treatment on the field before being replaced by Antony Kay.

The second half threatened to be a repeat of the first, with the home side very much on the front foot. Ibehre was showing his former club what they were missing with some strong, powerful runs which Kay, making his first appearance since being send off against Crewe almost a month ago, didn’t seem to be able to contain.

But Dons almost doubled their lead nine minutes after the restart when a quick burst forward saw Dean Bowditch slip Patrick Bamford in, but his neat post shot was well kept out by Walker.

Though Dons didn’t seem to be in an awful lot of trouble, neither Stephen Gleeson nor Darren Potter were having much of an affect on the game. With Bamford as the lone front man, a lot of Dons’ play saw the defenders clipping balls up for the teenager to hold up, effectively eliminating the two usual orchestrators as potential contributors.

As Dons began to find their feet, Bamford wrapped it up with his third goal for the club with 13 minutes to go. In almost a carbon copy of the opener, Chadwick spotted Bamford’s break down the left flank this time, slipping him in behind and coolly slotting into the corner for 2-0.

Ibehre had a chance in stoppage time to make it a nervy finale for his former club, but McLoughlin did well to close the angle and save with his legs.

It’s looking like a neigh on impossible ask to make it to the play-offs now though. With Swindon’s 4-1 win over Crewe at the County Ground, Dons need the Robins to drop points in both of their remaining games.

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 3,175 (211)

Colchester United: Walker, Garmston, Okuonghae, Sears (Michael Smith 82), Bond (O’Toole 82), Ibehre, Wilson, Massey, White, Wright (Porter 74), Clifford

Subs not used: Cousins, Heath, Morrison, Bean

MK Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Lewington (Kay 59), Doumbe, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Powell (Lowe 73), Chadwick (Lines 79), Bamford

Subs not used: Alan Smith, Baldock, McLeod

Booked: Williams, White, Porter