Colchester United have beaten MK Dons 1-0 at Stadium:MK in a real statement of intent for their ambitions this sea
Once again, the U's have bounced back after defeat to gain three points in the following game.
This was the toughest test of their resilience, taking on second placed MK Dons away, but they came through with flying colours.
The only goal of the game came in the twelfth minute, with skipper Luke Prosser deftly flicking his left foot at a Brennan Dickesnson corner and finding the far corner.
The hosts did try and come at the U's in the second half, but Prosser and co. at the heart of the U's defence prevented Rene Gilmartin having too many saves to make.
The one time he was called into meaningful action, he superbly tipped over an effort from Ousseynou Cisse.
The final whistle went after four minutes of added time, and the U's finished the first half of the season sitting in third place in the table ahead of the Christmas fixtures.
Boss John McGreal made four changes to the team that started at Carlisle seven days ago, bringing in Rene Gilmartin, Tom Eastman, Brennan Dickeson and Luke Norris.
The game started with the hosts on the front foot, and they maybe should have been ahead in only the second minute.
A long ball got Kieran Agard in behind the U’s defence, but after a decent first touch, the resultant shot hit the sidenetting rather than Rene Gilmartin’s goal.
That early scare concentrated the U’s minds, and they started to take the game to the Dons, causing problems to the outside two of the three home central defenders.
Sammie Szmodics failed to find Frank Nouble with the final ball, and then Brennan Dickenson’s low cross on eleven minutes was put behind by George Williams for a U’s corner.
And the U’s took the lead from the set piece. Dickenson’s ball into the near post was deftly flicked on the half volley by Prosser, nestling in the far corner with Lee Nicholls well beaten.
Possession was then shared by the two teams, but neither side were really able to test the opposition keeper before half time.
The U’s probably had the better of things in the twenty minutes after the goal, but the hosts came into it more in the final ten of the half.
They still couldn’t test Gilmartin, and the U’s would have been pleased with their first forty five minutes work in the second versus third clash.
MK Dons started the second half as they did the first, getting a chance within the first two minutes.
A low cross into the near post area from the right found Lawson D’Ath, but he completely miskicked and the chance went begging.
With the hosts having won their past six home fixtures, it would have surprised no-one if they had laid siege to the U’s goal throughout the second period.
That wasn’t the case, and the U’s got their first chances of the half in quick succession with only forty eight minutes on the clock.
First, Dickenson’s shot from the edge was blocked out for a corner, and Ryan Jackson’s effort from similar distance when the set piece fell to him went comfortably wide of the target.
Home sub Chuks Aneke was next to try his luck, but his curler from the corner of the box cleared the angle of bar and post on fifty two minutes.
The home side’s best effort of the half came a couple of minutes later, but Gilmartin superbly tipped over a long range effort from Cisse.
Aneke was causing problems for the U’s defence, and he headed over the top from six yards out when it looked like he was going to equalise.
On closer inspection, it was in fact great defending from Frankie Kent, who just challenged the forward enough to prevent him heading on target.
The U’s best chance to increase the lead came on seventy four minutes, and Luke Norris looked frustrated with himself that he didn’t at least test Nicholls with an effort from just inside the box.
Solid defending, and an amazing appetite to run the ball forward meant the U’s weren’t conceding chances to the hosts, and the remaining minutes saw the ball in the MK Dons’ half as much as it was in the U’s.
The four minutes of injury time were navigated pretty comfortably, and the U’s had once again bounced back after defeat with a victory.
This was the most impressive of the bounce back wins though, coming against a side that were in second place in the league and had a recent record of six home wins out of six.