MATCH REPORT AND GALLERY: Sam Walker performs heroics to earn a point for Colchester United at MK Dons
- Credit: Archant
MK Dons 0 Colchester United 0 Battling Colchester United ground out a valuable point at MK Dons this afternoon.
The U’s were second best throughout, and rode their luck at times, but they defended bravely and were also indebted to some marvellous saves by Sam Walker.
The Chelsea loanee produced a man-of-the-match performance between the sticks, to deny the Milton Keynes club.
U’s boss Joe Dunne had made two changes to the side that slid to a 2-1 home defeat to then-bottom club Crewe last Sunday.
Sanchez Watt was handed his first start since the end of September, following a struggle against injury, while Ryan Dickson was recalled down the left flank. Wingers Dominic Vose and Blair Turgott were relegated to the bench.
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It was the Dons who dictated the early exchanges, and Ben Reeves had a goal-bound shot deflected wide on three minutes.
The U’s goal was soon leading a charmed life. Dale Jennings and Reeves both had shots charged down, and Patrick Bamford stabbed narrowly wide from point blank range, all in the same attack.
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Left winger Jennings was in the thick of the action. His 10th minute cross-cum-shot was hacked off the goal-line by Luke Garbutt, and another of his efforts was blocked by the back-pedalling David Wright.
The U’s soaked up the pressure and threatened first in the 13th minute, from Garbutt’s free-kick. Tom Eastman was unmarked, but he could only direct his header straight at keeper David Martin from six yards out.
Otherwise, it was one-way traffic. Sam Walker found Jennings’ 20-yarder too hot to handle on 20 minutes, although the Chelsea loanee did manage to palm it to safety.
Walker made sure that he got his whole body behind a long-range free-kick by Shaun Williams, just after the half-hour mark, after which both sides struggled to pass the ball in the driving rain until Walker kept out Bamford’s shot at his near post in stoppage time.
The Dons continued to dominate at the start of the second period, and the busy Walker had to push away goal-bound shots by Reeves and Williams, the latter from a free-kick, inside the first two minutes.
Shortly afterwards and Bamford was inches away from diverting home Darren Potter’s header, as the U’s continued to hang on.
Ironically, Dons’ old boy Jabo Ibehre also came close to scoring, for his former club, when his defensive header from a corner flew a foot over his own bar.
Dons front-man Bamford had a sight of goal in the 78th minute, but again he could find no way past Walker with his low drive.
Two minutes later and substitute Daniel Powell ran half the length of the pitch, only to see his shot squeezed around the near post by the excellent Walker.
And Walker then produced the save of the match, when turning Stephen Gleeson’s shot onto his own bar in the 83rd minute.
Four minutes later and the U’s keeper performed heroics again, firstly beating away Reeves’ fierce drive and then finger-tipping Potter’s header over his bar.
MK DONS: Martin, Hodson (sub Baldock, 74), Williams, Spence, Lewington, Carruthers (sub Powell, 79), Gleeson, Potter, Reeves, Jennings (sub Alli, 61), Bamford. Unused subs: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Smith, Kay.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae (sub Morrison, 90+2), Eastman, Garbutt, Wright, Bean, Eastmond (sub Gilbey, 79), Watt (sub Vose, 66), Ibehre, Dickson. Unused subs: Cousins, Sears, Turgott, Olufemi.
Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)