Tom Rubashow reports from The Valley
Charlton Athletic succumbed to a 2-0 loss to Milton Keynes Dons at The Valley on an emotional night dedicated to the memory of PC Keith Palmer.
Goals in either half from Stuart O’Keefe and Harvey Barnes gave the visitors three points in an evening where the home side struggled to test Dons goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.
Taking on his former club, Karl Robinson made five changes from the team that lost to Peterborough United at the weekend. Declan Rudd started in goal behind a much-changed back four.
Chris Solly and Jason Pearce returned from injury, Patrick Bauer retained his place and there was a first start for Chelsea loanee Jay Dasilva. Johnnie Jackson, Joe Aribo, Jake Forster-Caskey and Ricky Holmes took shape in a midfield diamond with Tony Watt and the returning Josh Magennis up front.
Watt immediately caused the MK Dons defence problems when he nipped past Paul Downing in the first minute and was brought down by the centre-half who received a yellow card for his cynical challenge.
It was the Dons who struck first though, a deep cross in from George Baldock on the right wasn’t cleared and a deflected shot from Barnes was brilliantly saved by Rudd, the rebound fell straight to Stuart O’Keefe who made no mistake to put the visitors one up.
The Dons were the better side for the first half-hour and nearly had a second goal when Ed Upson was well blocked after stepping inside Bauer in the 25th minute.
A Dasilva run down the left moments later won a corner to give Charlton their first productive move for a while. The corners continued to pile up as the half drew to a close but the attempts in play were limited to outside the area – Forster-Caskey and Holmes firing wide while a Magennis firebolt was straight at Nicholls.
The visitors had their second booking of the game when goalscorer O’Keefe cynically hauled back Aribo who had dispossessed him and looked in a good position to counter.
Just before the half-time whistle Watt fizzed in a dangerous cross from the left but a grateful Nicholls clutched at the ball with no Addicks able to get a toe on it.
Robbie Muirhead had the first chance of the second half when he headed over from a Dean Lewington cross shortly after half time.
Pearce then got a booking for a foul on George Baldock and Watt was later booked for a foul on the right -back.
Jackson was replaced by Byrne in the 56th minute as Charlton changed hoping for a goal but almost immediately MK Dons doubled their lead when they picked up a loose ball in midfield and countered quickly. The visitors found Barnes on the left and the winger, who caused problems all evening, cut inside and struck a right-footed effort into the bottom left-hand corner of Rudd’s goal.
Dasilva was proving Charlton’s biggest threat with numerous drives down the left hand side and it was a deep cross from the left that gave Charlton their best chance when an unmarked Watt headed wide minutes after the second goal.
Jordan Botaka was Robinson’s second substitute with 15 minutes to go, replacing Watt but the winger was unable to cause any problems to the opposition defenders.
Holmes, like Dasilva, was a threat and it was from his late corner that Magennis headed over with time running out.
At the other end substitute Kieron Agard hit the post with a beautiful shot on the turn that had Rudd beaten.
Nicholls remained relatively untroubled through the four minutes of stoppage time handing Charlton a third defeat in as many games.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Bauer, Pearce, Dasilva, Jackson (Byrne 56), Forster-Caskey, Aribo, Holmes, Magennis, Watt (Botaka 75).
Subs (not used): Phillips, Chicksen, Crofts, Ulvestad, Teixeira.
Booked: Pearce 52 (foul on Baldock), Watt 69 (foul on Baldock).
Milton Keynes: Nicholls, Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Lewington, Upson, Potter, O’Keefe (Bowditch 90), Reeves (Brittain 89), Muirhead (Agard 74), O’Keefe
Subs (not used): Burns, Ngombo, Tilney, Maynard.
Goals: O’Keefe 7, Barnes 57
Booked: Downing 1 (foul on Watt), O’Keefe 43 (foul on Aribo), Reeves 83 (foul on Holmes)
Referee: A Haines
Att: 10,943 (446 from Milton Keynes)
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