Neil Allen's match report: Dion delights on Portsmouth return

DION DONOHUE announced himself as Pompey's match-winner on his long-awaited comeback - leading them into the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy in the process.

Dion Donohue hands Pompey victory at Crawley Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue hands Pompey victory at Crawley Picture: Joe Pepler

The left-sided performer has been dogged by illness and injury since the summer.

But Kenny Jackett granted the Welshman's return at Crawley in last night's Checkatrade Trophy Southern Group A clash.

And, operating in a midfield role, Donohue grabbed the only goal of the game on 37 minutes to make it an eye-catching arrival.

The Broadfield Stadium clash also signalled Louis Dennis' bow, while first-year scholar Haji Mnoga was given a debut at right-back.

The former Trafalgar School pupil weighed in at 16 years, five months and 24 days - the second youngest in the club's post-war history.

That is 15 days older than Joe Hancott, who retains the crown he captured in August 2017, also arriving in the Checkatrade Trophy.

It meant Gareth Evans and Ben Close were the only members of Saturday's starting line-up in defeat to Gillingham to retain their places, with nine changes implemented.

And the 484 away fans present saw Jackett's men claim the 1-0 victory which ushers them into the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy, with one group match remaining.

Although there was disappointment for Joe Mason on a rare start, blazing an 88th-minute penalty out of the ground.

Following a tight start, the deadlock was broken on 37 minutes, after Evans found Mason with a raking ball out of defence.

The forward slipped in Donohue down the left channel, who proceeded to cleverly cut inside his man and curl a right-footed finish into the far corner of the net.

Pompey headed into the interval with a 1-0 advantage and made a change at the break, with Matt Clarke coming on for Evans, with a switch to a back three.

On 88 minutes, Mark Randall brought down Anton Walkes inside the box, but Mason crashed his penalty over the away stand behind the goal and into the Crawley night.

But Jackett's men held on to their lead to progress further in the much-maligned competition.