A humiliating 27 minutes at Sixfields saw MK Dons throw away any chance of victory against Northampton Town on Sunday as they went down 3-2 to their neighbours.
Their catastrophic afternoon began just nine minutes in, when Harry Beautyman capitalised on some slack defending to fire Cobblers into the lead. It was 2-0 four minutes later when Alex Revell got a flick on Matt Taylor’s cross, and the humiliation got worse when the former Portsmouth man bent in a wonderful free kick to make it 3-0 inside 30 minutes.
Dean Bowditch’s header just before half time threatened gave Dons something to play for in the second period, but despite pressuring the home side, never really tested keeper Adam Smith, while David Martin saved Taylor’s penalty to save some face.
Samir Carruthers netted in stoppage time to make the scoreline, look a little less embarrassing, but the defeat, their third in the league already, sees Dons drop to 16th in League 1 after just six matches.
Record signing Kieran Agard was named among the substitutes for the trip to Sixfields, but there was a new face in the starting line-up as Wigan loanee Ryan Colclough made his debut after signing on deadline day. Dons’ other deadline day signing Jack Hendry was on the bench.
Northampton had drawn every league of the season game going into the local derby, but were given a hand in their opening goal by yet more dismal Dons defending. Despite Colclough appearing to pinch the ball from Jak McCourt, Joe Walsh didn’t attack the loose ball and it fell for McCourt again to play in Harry Beautyman in behind, who routinely stuck it past David Martin after just nine minutes.
Having fallen behind two goal behind in four games already this season, Northampton made it five four minutes later, courtesy of a face all too familiar to Dons. Rising high above Paul Downing, Alex Revell, who left Dons in the summer, got a flick on it to beat Martin for the second time.
And their misery was compounded before the clock even struck the half hour when Darren Potter brought down Beautyman on the edge of the box, and the ever-dangerous Matt Taylor bent in an trademark free kick make it 3-0 after just 27 minutes.
Dons played some nice stuff after that, despite being three goals down. Colclough looked a lively outlet on the left and showed off a good eye for a pass, but nothing really tested keeper Adam Smith.
Seven minutes before the break, Dons were given the slimmest of lifelines when Samir Carruthers picked out Dean Bowditch to head in, reducing the deficit to two.
And it could have been even closer come the break when Colclough made it to the byline to cross in low, but neither Ed Upson nor Maynard gambled on it and it zipped safely across the face with the goal begging.
Dons, clearly given a rocket at half time, came out of the dressing rooms full of gusto and despite pegging Northampton in their own half for much of the opening exchanges, found themselves at risk of going 4-1 down when referee David Webb awarded the home side a penalty. Dean Bowditch appeared to just stand his ground when Kenji Gorre tried to take the ball round him, going to ground when he ran into him. But from the spot, Martin made a wonderful save, low to his left, to deny Taylor his second of the afternoon.
Having ridden their luck, Dons introduced Kieran Agard and Ben Reeves in a bid to add more attacking prowess, replacing Maynard and Upson. Despite having the ball and restricting Northampton to the counter, the visitors didn’t do enough to test Smith. George Baldock fizzed one in at the keeper, which he only half dealt with, but other than that, he didn’t have much to do. Agard suffered similar problems to Maynard as balls sailed over his head, with Robinson left on the touchline lamenting service once again.
David Martin, on the other hand, made another fine stop when Brendan Moloney chanced his arm from range, forcing the keeper down to his right to tip his effort around the post.
But having been the masters of their own downfall in the first half, Dons didn’t deserve another to force the issue but got one when Carruthers got in behind deep into stoppage time, but the home side deservedly ran out with all three points.
Referee: David Webb
Attendance: 6,618 (1269)
Northampton: Smith, Moloney, Nyatanga, Diamond, Buchanan, McCourt, Taylor, Anderson (Hoskins 67), Beautyman, Gorre (A Potter 67), Revell (Richards 90)
Subs not used: Byrom, Cornell, McDonald, Hooper
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Lewington, Upson (Reeves 59), D Potter, Bowditch, Colclough (Powell 71), Carruthers, Maynard (Agard 59)
Subs not used: GB Williams, Hendry, Nicholls, Thomas-Asante
Booked: Carruthers, Baldock, A Potter