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Report: Colchester United 2-3 MK Dons

Matthew Dennis' stoppage-time strike secures dramatic away win...

19 August 2023

Match Reports

Report: Colchester United 2-3 MK Dons

Matthew Dennis' stoppage-time strike secures dramatic away win...

19 August 2023

MK Dons scored a stoppage-time winner to beat Colchester United 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The goalscoring action started as early as the eighth minute when Mo Eisa netted in his fourth successive game, heading home from Cameron Norman’s cross. Colchester, though, turned things around by the quarter-hour mark, with Joe Taylor’s brace giving them a 2-1 lead.

Graham Alexander’s men pushed throughout the remainder of the game in search of salvaging a result and two late goals from Alex Gilbey and Matthew Dennis - the latter coming in the ninth minute of stoppage time – saw them complete a dramatic turnaround and secure all three points.

Alexander was forced into one change as Dawson Devoy replaced MJ Williams, who was unavailable after picking up a knock. In more positive injury news, Matthew Dennis and Conor Grant returned to the squad and were amongst the substitutes.

The Dons worked their first chance on goal after only 40 seconds. Former Colchester man Alex Gilbey won possession deep in the United half, providing the opportunity for Mo Eisa to drive towards goal and shoot – his right-footed effort, however, was off target.

Alexander’s men threatened again on four minutes, after Cameron Norman’s long throw into the area was headed clear only as far as Devoy. The Irishman did well to create room for a shot but couldn’t keep his 20-yard strike down.

Norman sent another ball into the box three minutes later – one which was just about dealt with by the Colchester defender with Mo Eisa lurking. Norman’s next for cross for Eisa did find its target and from it, MK Dons took the lead.

Gilbey created the opportunity with a block inside the Colchester half, providing Norman with a second chance to deliver a cross in from the right. This one was placed perfectly onto the head of EISA, who glanced home past Owen Goodman for his fourth goal in as many games. 0-1.

The Dons’ lead, however, would last less than a minute, as the home side levelled the scores with their next attack – TAYLOR managing to bundle home at the far post from Jayden Fevrier’s low ball across the six-yard area. 1-1.

Colchester then turned things around completely, scoring a second just four minutes later. It was TAYLOR again on the scoresheet, with the forward this time converted from close range after a cross in from the Dons’ left. 2-1.

Alexander’s men almost had an instant response of their own but neither Eisa, nor Leko, were able to convert their chances inside the penalty area. Eisa wasn’t able to sort his feet out in time to convert from Leko’s deflected cross while the MK Dons number 7 was then denied by a sliding block with his 10-yard follow-up effort.

A lengthy stoppage, owing to a head-to-head collision involving Tommy Smith and a Colchester man, disrupted the flow of the game. It was the hosts who regained some momentum quicker, and they were denied a third by a goal-line clearance from Jack Tucker on the half-hour.

O’Hora and Devoy then produced blocks to keep long-range efforts from troubling MacGillivray. They then started to regain control of the contest but were finding it difficult to break down a Colchester side content to get men deep behind the ball in the closing stages of the first half.

There were appeals for a penalty on 38 minutes when Norman’s cross appeared to strike the arm of a defender but those shouts were waved away. Soon after, both Gilbey and Tucker had efforts on goal but both saw their attempts blocked.

Leko tried his luck as the first half moved into stoppages but he couldn’t find the target with his 20-yard strike. The number 7 ten teed up Eisa in the fifth minute of additional time but his strike partner was denied by a goal-saving block from Nico Lawrence.

Alexander’s men returned for the second-half unchanged and with a point to prove, attacking the goal behind which the 569 travelling Dons supporters were situated. They watched on as Devoy tested Goodman early in the second half – the Colchester goalkeeper equal to the Irishman’s left-footed shot from the edge of the area.

Harvie was the next to go for goal, after receiving the ball back from Leko who had sprung clear down the left. The left-back’s curling shot appeared to be on target but was blocked by the head of Lawrence.

From the resulting corner, Leko glanced a header towards goal from Robson’s cross but this, too, was blocked by a United man. The attack continued, with Harvie delivering a ball into the area for Gilbey, whose header back across goal was just of Eisa’s reach.

Smith got in the way of a shot from Taylor as the hosts offered a reminder of their threat just past the hour. MacGillivray was then forced into a save by Noah Chilvers, diving to his right to keep out the midfielder’s bending effort.

Alexander made a double change with 64 minutes on the clock, handing a first appearance of the season to Dennis, in place of Leko, while also switching out Robson for Ashley Hunter in the middle of the park.

Dennis teed up Harvie for a cross soon after his introduction. His ball in was met by his opposite full-back at the far post, but Norman wasn’t able to direct his header on target. Dennis was then brought down for a free-kick, which saw O’Hora turn wide from Hunter’s set-piece delivery.

MacGillivray did well when called into action by substitute Al-Amin Kazeem, tipping the wing-back’s fierce effort over his crossbar. He was then able to watch Taylor blaze high and wide with a good opportunity on 75 minutes.

Alexander made his third change, handing Grant his maiden appearance of the season, with Smith making way. His side then went close through Norman, whose volleyed effort, following Tucker’s header back across goal, flew wide.

With four minutes to play, space opened up for Hunter, 25 yards out, and he forced a save out of Goodman with low shot. Moments later, he turned provider, to set up GILBEY to level the scores for MK Dons.

Hunter did well to improvise when faced with a bouncing ball, acrobatically sending a pass through to GILBEY, who forced his way between two Colchester defenders before looping a chip over Goodman and into the back of the net. 2-2.

With the game finely poised, 11 minutes of added time were added by the fourth official and the Dons went agonisingly close to scoring in the second of those but a combination of Goodman and the crossbar somehow prevented Tucker’s header from finding the net.

The Dons kept pushing and in the ninth minute of time remaining, they were rewarded with a winning goal. Hunter was involved again, latching onto a ball inside the box but showing the composure to tee up DENNIS instead of having a shot.

The substitute took one touch before drilling home a right-footed shot from the edge of the area, sending the travelling MK Dons fans into raptures and completing a memorable away day in Essex. 2-3.

MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, O’Hora, Leko (Dennis 64), Gilbey, Eisa (Ilunga 90+11), Smith (Grant 77), Robson (Hunter 64), Harvie, Devoy.

Subs: Harness, Holland, Dean.

Goals: Eisa (8), Gilbey (88), Dennis (90+9)

Booked: Eisa, Harvie, Gilbey, Grant

Colchester United: Goodman, Hall, Dallison (Kazeem 55), Chilvers, Read, Egbo, Tchamadeu, Lawrence, Taylor, Fevrier, Ihionvien (Bandeira 78).

Subs: Smith, Greenidge, Jay, Newby, Thomas.

Goals: Taylor (10, 14)

Booked: Ihionvien, Fevirer, Chilvers, Tchamadeu, Egbo

Referee: C Brook

Attendance: 3,857 (569 away)

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