Baldock hat-trick downs U’s
npower League One Colchester Utd 1 MK Dons 3
SAM Baldock’s second half hat-trick saw Colchester United once again punished for not taking their chances.
The U’s played well in the first half and led at the break through Steven Gillespie’s cooly-taken 29th minute goal.
MK Dons equalised less than three minutes after the restart when Baldock tucked away following a quick one-two on the edge of the box.
And the pacey striker raced clear to put the visitors in front in the 62nd minute just seconds after Gillespie had missed a six-yard sitter.
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Substitute Andy Bond skied a great opportunity over the bar from 10 yards out in the 82nd minute before Baldock sealed his treble four minutes from time after keeper Ben Williams had parried a fierce Chadwick shot.
There was still time for Ashley Vincent to miss another glorious chance for the U’s in stoppage-time when he sent a close range header down into the ground and up over the bar.
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The result effectively ends Colchester’s hopes of finishing in the play-offs as they slip 13 points off the top six.
With the outstanding Lloyd James pulling the strings in midfield, Colchester just about edged an open first half in which both sides tried to play passing football.
And they led at the break courtesy of Gillespie’s calm finish. The fans’ favourite – restored to the starting line-up following four appearances off the bench – cooly took a touch following a Mathias Doumbe mistake in the box before guiding the ball inside the far post with his weaker left foot.
Visiting keeper Stuart Searle – promoted from the bench less than half an hour before kick-off after David Martin injured his ankle in the warm-up – made a good save from an Anthony Wordsworth free-kick and was quick off his line to block at the feet of Kayode Odejayi in the opening 15 minutes.
MK Dons had looked dangerous themselves in the opening period though and it took them less than three minutes to equalise after the restart when Baldock slotted into the bottom corner following a quick one-two with Stephen Hughes on the edge of the box.
The U’s almost hit back within seconds as Searle saved with his legs at the feet of Gillespie, while at the other end Baldock twice he forced good saves out of U’s keeper Ben Williams in a frantic five minute period.
The U’s then spurned two superb chances to get their noses back in front as first Odejayi’s weak shot one-on-one allowed defender Doumbe to clear, before Gillespie was guilty of missing a sitter from an unmarked six-yard position after a corner dropped nicely for him.
To rub salt in the wounds, MK Dons swiftly counter-attacked from the latter miss and scored through Baldock again – the striker cooly converting having been sent racing clear by Daniel Powell’s through ball.
Colchester’s afternoon – and season – was rather summed up by substitute Bond’s miss in the 82nd minute. Following excellent build-up involving Ashley Vincent and Odejayi, the midfielder almost cleared the South Stand with his wild shot from 10 yards out.
Baldock then wrapped up MK Dons’ victory – and his hat-trick – with four minutes to go when smashing in a loose ball after Williams had parried a fierce Chadwick shot.
– Reaction to follow. Full match report in Monday’s EADT.
COLCHESTER UTD (4-4-2): Williams; White, Heath, Clarke, Beevers (Wilson 88); Henderson (Vincent 69), James, Perkins, Wordsworth (Bond 69); Gillespie, Odejayi.
Unused Subs: Cousins; Coker; Izzet, O’Toole.
Booked: Clarke (74).
MK DONS (4-4-2): Searle; Woodards, Doumbe, MacKenzie (O’Hanlon 61), Lewington; Powell, Hughes, Gleeson, Chadwick (Guy 88); Baldwock, Vine (Ibehre 76).
Unused Subs: Chicksen, Stirling, Flanagan; Balanta.
Booked: Gleeson (12), Powell (36).
Referee: Mr Chris Sarginson (Staffordshire)