Momentum again curtailed although one player gives Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett January food for thought

Pompey writer Will Rooney assesses the main talking points from the Blues’ 3-1 defeat at the hands of MK Dons...

Monday, 30th December 2019, 9:17 am
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 11:21 am

Momentum curtailed

It was a result that so many predicted heading up to Stadium MK.

Despite Pompey finally looking like they had transformed themselves from promotion pretenders into genuine contenders following successive victories over Championship-chasing Ipswich and Wycombe, sections of fans remained pessimistic travelling to Buckinghamshire on Sunday.

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There was also a sense of déjà vu for the travelling Fratton faithful as they prepared to face a side sitting in League One’s relegation zone.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Blues’ 10-game unbeaten run came to a dramatic end in dismal fashion at lowly Accrington.

And as the final whistle sounded at the Dons, those fans were justifiably right in their sceptical outlook.

Kenny Jackett’s men once again suffered a miserable defeat against a relegation-battling opponent, curtailing the momentum they had gained.

Anton Walkes was one player who caught the eye against MK Dons. Picture: Nigel Keene

For the opening half-hour, it looked a matter of when, not if, Pompey would break the deadlock as their high pressing persistently put the home side under the cosh.

The Blues failed to make their pressure count, though, as they failed to produce any real gilt-edged opportunities.

The visitors were subsequently hit with a sucker-punch when Rhys Healey opened the scoring.

And, from there, they never recovered.

Alex Gilbey rounds off MK Dons' defeat of Pompey. Picture: Nigel Keene

Given the unpredictable nature of League One this campaign, the defeat means Pompey remain just two points outside the play-off places.

But it continues to frustrate that the Blues aren’t grasping these opportunities – not only to thrust themselves into the top six, but to within touching distance of the automatic promotion places.

Walkes gives Jackett food for thought

When Lee Brown followed Brandon Haunstrup into the treatment room, it appeared a left-back would be a priority for Kenny Jackett in the January transfer window.

But following some impressive displays from right-back Anton Walkes in the role, the Pompey boss will perhaps be revising the need to bring in a left-footer so soon into the new year.

The ex-Spurs man is starting to settle down in his makeshift position and is acclimatising well to his duties on the opposite side of the defence.

After initially struggling, Walkes impressed in the win over Wycombe before again performing with credit at MK Dons.

The 22-year-old offered himself as an attacking presence every time Pompey ventured forward, overlapping Ronan Curtis on countless occasions.

Certainly, the former Atlanta United loanee has the pace and athleticism to burst into the opposition’s half.

And it was his left-footed delivery into the box that James Bolton headed back for Ronan Curtis’ consolation goal in stoppage-time.

The left-hand side of central defence continues to be a concern for the Blues, with Sean Raggett’s poor header gifting Rhys Healey the opening goal for the Dons.

With Walkes beginning to settle down, perhaps recruiting a left-back may not be as vital as it once was.

Instead, a top-quality centre-half should be top of the shopping list.

Fortress Fratton but Blues left running scared on road

Fortress has been the buzzword used to describe Pompey’s form at Fratton Park this campaign.

PO4 has been unbreachable, with the Blues now the only League One side not to suffer defeat on their own patch after Wycombe were thrashed 4-1 by Coventry.

Yet on the road Kenny Jackett’s men continue to leave the portcullis up, inviting their opponents to lay siege.

Pompey’s defeat at Stadium MK was their sixth on the road this League One season, seeing them accrue just eight points from a possible 30 to date.

It's in stark contrast to last term when the Blues were crowned the third tier’s away-day kings.

Ultimately, convincing reverses at Accrington and MK Dons aren’t the form of a side with designs on reaching the Championship.

It’s something Jackett has to find a remedy to swiftly as it's seriously threatening Pompey’s promotion bid.