Portsmouth end the decade with a miserable 3-1 loss at MK Dons

Pompey ended the decade in miserable fashion as they were defeated 3-1 by MK Dons.

Sunday, 29th December 2019, 1:06 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th December 2019, 3:53 pm
Portsmouth midfielder Marcus Harness (19) is challenged by Milton Keynes Dons midfielder Jordan Houghton (24) during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Milton Keynes Dons and Portsmouth at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, England on 29 December 2019.

The Blues were masters of their own downfall, with poor defending allowing Rhys Healey and Jordan Houghton to put the hosts in control in the first half, before Alex Gilbey added a third late one.

Ronan Curtis grabbed a stoppage-time consolation for the visitors.

Of more concern, Kenny Jackett’s side's lacklustre away form continues and they end 2019 placed ninth in League One.

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And frustratingly, they were unable to build on their victories over promotion-chasing Wycombe and Ipswich.

Pompey made one change from the 2-0 victory over Wycombe on Boxing Day, with Marcus Harness replacing the injured Ryan Williams.

There was also a spot on the bench for 17-year-old Haji Mnoga, who signed his maiden professional deal on Tuesday.

The visitors made a bright start to the game, with Ben Close having a goalbound effort blocked on five minutes after Marcus Harness cut a ball back from the byline.

Then it was Andy Cannon who got to the dead-ball line a minute later but Harness couldn’t dig out a shot from the cross.

The Blues continued to probe the Dons' goal, with Ellis Harrison’s low effort down the throat of home keeper Lee Nicholls.

Then Nicholls had a moment to forget when he picked up Joe Walsh’s back pass and Pompey were awarded an indirect free-kick from six yards.

However, the stopper atoned for his error when charging down Ronan Curtis’ effort.

Cannon then almost broke the deadlock in the 24th minute but his left-footed half-volley went agonisingly wide.

Pompey’s high pressing had caused Russell Martin’s side all sorts of problems – but they opened the scoring against the run of play with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.

Sean Raggett got caught out by Jordan Houghton’s long punt forward and tried to head back to keeper Craig MacGillivray but Healey nipped in to slot home with a simple finish.

The Dons then seized the initiative and doubled their lead in the 43rd minute through another poor piece of defending.

Healey roamed into a gaping hole before Mason shifted the ball to McGrandles, whose superb finish found the top corner.

It was MK Dons who also began the second period on the front foot, with MacGillivray forced into a flying save to deny Alex Gibley's powerful effort.

Pompey started to grow back into the game and John Marquis – who replaced Harrison at half-time – should have done better when slid in by Harness but was denied by the legs of Nicholls.

The home keeper then made another good stop from the resulting corner when he thwarted Curtis at the back post.

Then Curtis tried his luck with a arrowing 25-yarder which Nicholls was again equal to and tipped around the post.

Jackett threw on Gareth Evans and Brett Pitman in the hope of salvaging a result.

But they were unable to make any real impact and Gilbey almost added a third when he was allowed to break but shot wide.

Yet the Dons midfielder would get a deserved goal with six minutes remaining and send Pompey back to the south coast empty-handed.

The home side broke at pace and Gilbey coolly chipped home over the onrushing MacGillivray.

Curtis headed home a late, late header for his eighth goal in nine games, but it was nothing but a consolation.

It was an afernoon to forget for Pompey as they prepare to face Gillingham on New Year’s Day

MK Dons: Nicholls, Brittain, Williams, Walsh, Lewington, Houghton, McGrandles, Kasumu, Gilbey (Reeves 90+1), Healey (Nombe 68), Mason (Agard 77)

Subs not used: Moore, Poole, Cargill, Boateng.

Pompey: MacGillivray, Bolton, Burgess, Raggett, Walkes, Naylor, Close, Harness (Evans 72), Cannon (Pitman 72), Curtis, Harrison (Marquis 46).

Subs not used: Bass, Mnoga, Downing, Hawkins.