MK Dons 3-1 Portsmouth: Struggling Dons shock poor Portsmouth
BOLTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 16: Russell Martin the manager of Milton Keynes Dons looks on during the Sky Bet Leauge One match between Bolton Wanderers and Milton Keynes Dons at University of Bolton Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

MK Dons, who started the day in the relegation zone, managed a shock victory this afternoon at home to visiting Portsmouth who were expected to come home with an easy three points.

First-half goals from Rhys Healey and Conor McGrandles gave the Dons a shock early lead following some shaky defending from the Pompey defence.

Alex Gilbey then ensured the victory with a beautiful chip over Craig MacGillivray in the away side's goal before Ronan Curtis prevented the Dons escaping the drop-zone with a stoppage-time consolation goal

Story of the match

Nobody was expecting the League One strugglers to shock the play-off chasing Portsmouth this afternoon, but it was the home side that came out of the blocks flying.

Rhys Healey, on his return to the side, lead the early pressure from the Dons and won himself a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the away side's area - but his low effort from about 25 yards struck the Pompey wall.

Portsmouth quickly grew into the game after the Dons' early spell of pressure, and created two quickfire chances in the 7th minute with James Bolton and Marcus Harness combining twice but neither could find the net.

Just under five minutes later, former Bristol Rovers forward Ellis Harrison managed to make himself some room to shoot by wriggling past Dons defender Joe Walsh, but he failed to stop his shot from rocketing over the bar.

In the 21st minute, the crowd inside Stadium MK then witnessed a rare indirect free-kick from six yards away when Lee Nicholls picked up a back-pass.

The Dons keeper did redeem himself however with a powerful save - riling up the home side supporters behind the goal.

In the opposite stand, the traveling fans - possibly outnumbering the home fans inside the stadium, were furious to watch referee Leigh Doughty wave play on after a strong, but fair, tackle from young midfielder David Kasumu.

This lead to Healey connecting with a long ball and then sliding the ball underneath Craig MacGillvray in the Pompey goal to give the home side a shock lead.

The home side began to look a completely different side to the team that failed to beat one win all season Southend United; they doubled their lead eight minutes later.

Healey again was heavily involved, this time assisting the goal following a wonderful pass by captain Dean Lewington - resulting in the striker cushioning the ball across the edge of the 18-yard box into the path of Conor McGrandles, who curled his strike into the top corner.

The visitors looked shell-shocked, and the Dons were looking to capitalise on that at the start of the second half - driving at the shaky Pompey defence with pace and intent.

However, it was Pompey who came closest to scoring in the next ten minutes with two clear-cut chances inside the Dons box; Nicholls in the Dons net saving two one-on-one chances in quick succession.

The home side responded well - Healey and Kasumu combining to release Joe Mason who could not gain control of the ball and his first touch let Pompey off easy.

Ronan Curtis came so close to pulling one pack for Pompey, but the 23-year-old Irishman's long-range swerving effort was saved spectacularly by Nicholls to preserve his clean sheet.

Callum Brittain then almost extended his side's lead in the 71st minute after great hold up play by substitute Sam Nombe, but the former's effort sailed over the bar.

The Dons continued to test the Pompey backline and they again came close to getting their reward when former Chelsea prospect Jordan Houghton was presented a free header from a corner, however the midfielder failed to keep his effort underneath the crossbar.

Moments later, Alex Gilbey could have got his name on the scoresheet too - but he saw his shot drift just inches wide of the post.

Joe Walsh and Christian Burgess were involved in a clash after the former tried to pick the latter up off the floor, to which the Portsmouth defender kicked out triggering the MK Dons man to push him back - yellow card for both defenders.

Gilbey then did get his reward for a fantastic display after Nombe did excellently to win the ball back for his side and then release his teammate who cheekily chipped MacGillvray to ensure the Dons take home an impressive but also much needed three points.

Pompey did pull one back in the dying moments of stoppage time through Curtis who showed good determination to get onto the end of a ball across the box - preventing the Dons from escaping the bottom three on goal difference.

Man of the match - Conor McGrandles

This could have gone to anyone out of the MK Dons starting eleven, with special mention to substitute Sam Nombe for his contributions.

Kasumu, Healey, Gilbey, Brittain, and Lewington were all also fantastic and worthy contenders.

McGrandles, however, was exceptional for the home side, controlling the game on the right side of midfield and grabbing a fantastic goal to wrap up a man of the match display.

 

 

 

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