Colchester United inflicted a first home league defeat on MK Dons as Luke Prosser’s 11th-minute goal earned them a 1-0 victory at Stadium MK.
Prosser found the net from an early corner for the visitors, who stifled the Dons all afternoon and became only the second Sky Bet League Two side all season to prevent Paul Tisdale’s men from finding the net.
Despite the result, the Dons retain their place in second heading into Christmas. They will be looking to bounce back with a win on Boxing Day when they travel to Cheltenham Town.
Boss Tisdale named an unchanged starting XI from the side which beat Carlisle United at Stadium MK. There were two alterations on the bench, though, with Chuks Aneke and Robbie Simpson returning from injury to take up a place in the squad.
MK Dons started on the front foot and George Williams delivered an early cross into the box - one which was claimed by Rene Gilmartin.
Minutes later, Ousseynou Cisse sent an excellent ball over the Colchester backline and onto the chest of the on-rushing Kieran Agard. His touch was perfect but his volleyed finish could only find the side netting.
Conor McGrandles, who lined up once again on the right-hand side of midfield, tried his luck in the fifth minute with a left-footed curler which sailed over the crossbar.
The man in the mask was involved again shortly afterwards, racing onto a ball down the right and then firing in a cross which was just out of the reach of Agard at the far post.
Colchester United threatened for the first time in the 10th minute when Sammie Szmodics pounced on a loose ball down the left wing. He drove to the by-line and crossed but the ball in was intercepted by Jordan Houghton.
Not long after, Brennan Dickenson found himself in a similar position to Szmodics and earned his team a corner with a low cross. From that corner, the U’s took the lead courtesy of a near-post flick from Luke Prosser which looped over Lee Nicholls and into the net. 0-1.
The visitor’s goal came against the run of play and it was the first league goal that MK Dons had conceded at home since the 23rd-minute of the 2-1 victory over Notts County back in October.
After a short lull in action, Colchester looked to double their advantage but a vital interception from McGrandles prevented Dickenson collecting Ryan Jackson’s cross.
The Dons then countered and a deflected cross from Baily Cargill almost fell kindly for D’Ath but he was forced into an acrobatic effort which he never truly controlled.
Lewington’s delivery on 24 minutes was a lot better and Rhys Healey, rushing to the near post, came within an inch of connecting and troubling Gilmartin.
On the half-hour mark, Cisse got in the way of a long-range effort from Frank Nouble before Dickenson saw a fierce drive blocked by McGrandles moments later.
MK Dons then put together their best attacking move of the half and it led to a crossing opportunity for McGrandles, whose delivery was headed over the bar by Prosser. A chance almost fell the way of Gilbey from the resulting corner but the former U's midfielder couldn’t get an effort away.
The home supporters willed their team on as they looked to restore parity before half-time. Cisse avoided the urge to shoot from distance on 38 minutes and instead sent in a cross which Cargill couldn’t quite head back into the mix.
Agard then went close to meeting a cross from Lewington before another mazy run from McGrandles saw him work his way into the area - however, he couldn’t pick out a teammate.
In the final minute of first-half action, Colchester earned themselves a free-kick following a foul on Luke Norris by Houghton. The visitors almost found a second goal from it but Nicholls was eventually able to gather.
Tisdale made two substitutions at the break, introducing Aneke and Peter Pawlett into the contest in place of Agard and Healey.
Aneke was involved early, playing the ball out wide for Williams who couldn’t connect with D’Ath, lurking at the near post.
The U’s then had their first chance of the second period - a drive from Dickenson which was well blocked by a sliding Gilbey. Jackson flashed wide from the resulting corner.
Pawlett then worked his way into the match, creating a chance inside the penalty area. The Dons number 11 picked out McGrandles, whose deft cross was intercepted on its way to the head of Aneke.
The substitutions certainly made an impact and Aneke went agonisingly close to drawing the Dons level in the 52nd minute with a curling effort which Gilmartin watched fly just over his goal.
Pawlett then went close following an excellent attack down the left moments before a stunning save from Gilmartin kept out Cisse’s goal-bound half-volley.
On the hour mark, D’Ath and Pawlett came close to connecting before the former tried to tee up Williams who, at full stretch, wasn’t able to get shot away. Pawlett then found Aneke with a cross but the striker headed over from six-yards out.
It was all MK Dons and with 35 minutes to play, Gilbey saw a volley from the edge of the area deflect wide. Tisdale then added more firepower to his team, replacing Cisse with Sow.
The U’s had a glorious chance to extend their lead with a quarter of an hour remaining but Norris blasted over when well-placed in the centre of the penalty area.
MK Dons went straight up the other end and Pawlett saw a left-footed shot across goal saved by Gilmartin. Aneke later headed wide from a Lewington corner.
Colchester did their best to chew up clock but, despite that, only four minutes were added on by the referee. In the first of those, Sow headed wide - not that it would have stood as the linesman’s flag went up for offside.
In the final minute, the Dons earned themselves a corner but despite a 30-second long scramble they weren’t able to find a way past the Colchester defence.
The whistle then blew and that saw the Dons’ unbeaten run at home came to an end.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Houghton, Cargill; McGrandles, Cisse (Sow 74), Gilbey, Lewington (c); D’Ath; Agard (Aneke 46), Healey (Pawlett 46).
Unused subs: Moore, Watson, Hancox, Simpson.
Booked: Pawlett, D’Ath, Gilbey
Referee: C Sarginson
Attendance: 7,765 (669 away)