Benik Afobe scored his first hat-trick for MK Dons as they made light work of Colchester United at stadium:mk.
The 6-0 win in no way flattered the home side, least of all Afobe who now sits on 18 for the season - surpassing his manager’s target of 17 by Christmas.
Colchester hit the post in the opening five minutes, courtesy of Kyle McFadzean’s loose attempt at a clearance, but it would be as close as the visitors would come. Alli opened the scoring with a spectacular strike after just 11 minutes, before Afobe added two more before the break. The striker could have added another just after the break, but didn’t have to wait long before taking home the match ball just before the hour mark.
Will Packwood was sent off for hauling down Afobe in the area as he looked set to net his fourth of the afternoon, but he generously offered spot kick to Ben Reeves, who fully deserved a goal for his brilliant afternoon. Lee Hodson scored the pick of the bunch in the final minute to complete the rout.
While the spectacular win does little for them in terms of their position in League 1 - remaining fourth - it keeps them within four points of the last automatic promotion spot and still right in the hunt.
Dons made three changes to the side which started Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Port Vale - Kyle McFadzean served his suspension and replaced Tom Flanagan at centre half, while goal-scorer Will Grigg rotated out for Benik Afobe, and Dean Bowditch dropped to the bench as Daniel Powell took his place.
Captain Dean Lewington remained sidelined with hamstring problems. His replacement, Lee Hodson, was playing out of position again and let slip his man, allowing Elliot Hewitt to drill the ball across the face of goal. The ball then took a bizarre deflection off Kyle McFadzean, but fortunately for him, and keeper David Martin, it hit the base of the post before bouncing out of play.
Dons thought they’d taken the lead after eight minutes played, but Colchester had keeper Sam Walker to thank for keeping things level. McFadzean met Ben Reeves’ corner at the penalty spot, and had turned off in celebration as the ball looked destined for the bottom corner. But Walker flew across his line to get a hand to it, tipping it away and to safety.
From one moment of brilliance, it took another to beat Walker barely three minutes later. Colchester could only half clear another of Dons countless early corners, and rather than pump the ball back into the danger one, Antony Kay knocked it back to Dele Alli, lurking 40 yards out. After duping one, he then burst past another Colchester defender before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 25 yards into the bottom corner to give Dons the lead.
Dons continued on the front foot, with Colchester limited to counter-attacks. Powell was terrorising Hewitt at full back, comfortably having pace on the defender though his balls into the middle left a lot to be desired.
They had to wait for their second of the afternoon, but it was worth waiting for. Picking the ball up on the right flank, Baker cut inside and waited for the run of Afobe in behind the defence. Through the eye of a needle, Afobe was able to latch onto Baker’s pass, delicately chipping the ball past Walker into the farside of the net to give Dons a 2-0 lead nine minutes before the break.
It was 3-0 on the stroke of half time and it all came a bit too easy for the home side. Baker was given far too much time on the flank to break into the box and fire in a shot at Walker. The keeper kept it out, but could do nothing about it popping up for Afobe to nod into the unguarded net for a simple third of the afternoon.
With the game effectively wrapped up, Dons could easily have clicked into autopilot and coasted through the second 45 minutes. But from the off, it was clear they wanted to put more up on the scoreboard. Baker looked determined to make Tom Eastman look foolish by beating him four times with his quick feet, only to offload to Reeves, whose shot was blocked. McFadzean then hit the post, at the right end this time, before Reeves again bent one just around the post as Dons piled forwards in the opening five minutes.
Having scored with his left foot and his head in the first half, Afobe looked a dead cert to complete a perfect hat-trick when he raced through on goal once again in the 54th minute. But he blasted his right-footed effort over the top, much to everyone’s surprise.
He wouldn’t have to wait long to complete his hat-trick though. In a similar run to his first, Afobe, this time unleashed by Reeves, bullied his way through the Colchester defence, lifting the ball nicely over Walker to complete his trio, and making it 4-0.
With Afobe’s hat-trick complete, it looked like he’d net another when he was sent racing clear. But Will Packwood tried in vain to halt Afobe’s progress, eventually hauling down the striker in the area. Referee Scott Mathieson immediately pointed to the spot, and pulled the red card from his pocket, sending Packwood off. Reeves hasn’t been stealing the headlines this season as often as he was last year, but looked back to his best and fully warranted a goal, dispatching the spot kick with confidence, notching up Dons’ fifth of the afternoon with 22 minutes still remaining.
After that, Dons were able to take their foot off the gas but it didn’t mean they didn’t have their chances to extend the lead further. Danny Green almost embarrassed Walker when his corner looked to be dipping just under the bar, though the keeper was able to punch it out for another. From the other side, Green teed up substitute Tom Flanagan to head on goal, but he saw his effort cleared off the line.
But the best was saved for the very last and from the most unlikely of sources. Hodson broke forward and cutting onto his preferred right foot, angled a strike into the top corner to complete the rout.
Referee: Scott Mathieson
MK Dons: Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean (Flanagan 68), Hodson, Potter, Alli (Green 63), Baker (Grigg 72), Reeves, Powell; Afobe
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Baldock, Bowditch, Grigg.
Colchester: Walker, Hewitt, Packwood, Eastman, Kpekawa, Fox, Gilbey (Eastmond 57), Massey, Watt (Moncur 72), Healey (Harney 72), Sears
Subs not used: Lewington, Moncur, Bonne, Szmodics, Sembie-Ferris, Harney
Sent off: Packwood