Portsmouth benefit from Dons' defensive woes to claim victory

Portsmouth beat Dons 3-1
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Defensive errors were the order of the day for MK Dons as they were beaten 3-1 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Tuesday.

The home side were gifted possession in the penalty area, allowing Andy Cannon to fire Portsmouth ahead after just four minutes. Dons were awarded a penalty in first half stoppage time, and Alex Gilbey was able to fire in his fifth goal of the season, but only after his spot kick was saved by Alex Bass.

Another defensive howler though allowed John Marquis to restore Portsmouth's lead four minutes after the restart and though Dons threatened, Carlton Morris' late red card put paid to their chances of a comeback. Substitute Marcus Harness added a third in injury time.

After the 1-0 win over Bolton on Saturday, Dons made just one change to the side as Conor McGrandles swapped places with Ben Reeves in the starting 11.

Portsmouth had not lost a game all season at Fratton Park in League One, and after just four minutes, they were ahead. Dons' desire to play out from the back at every opportunity had not really punished them until a loose ball from Jordan Houghton gifted Portsmouth possession, Ryan Williams was able to round Lee Nicholls and Andy Cannon was on hand to fire home from close range into the empty net.

But despite their poor start, Dons should have been level three minutes later when Alex Gilbey found himself one-on-one with keeper Alex Bass, but the midfielder fired straight at him.

Dons' response after the goal was excellent though, but it was their final touch which was letting them down at the crucial moments, meaning Bass was, by and large, untested.

Nicholls too though remained quiet for the most part, only tipping over a Ben Close strike.

The visitors would get their reward at the death of the half though. Rhys Healey was bundled to the ground by Christian Burgess deep into stoppage time, and Kevin Johnson pointed to the spot. Despite scoring in his last five, Healey was not on the spot kick but instead it was Gilbey. His penalty was poor though and saved by Bass, the rebound fell kindly to the Dons midfielder though who fired in the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.

Having done all the hard work to get level, it took just three second half minutes for Dons to gift Portsmouth the lead once more. Lee Brown skipped over a challenge on the right flank and the Dons defenders froze as if the ball had gone out of play, though it clearly had not, and Brown was able to pick out John Marquis to tap Portsmouth back in front.

But like in the first half, Dons asserted themselves well despite falling behind. Regan Poole came close with a headed effort not long after the goal but it was not really until Ben Gladwin was introduced on the hour mark that the visitors really got under the skin of the home supporters as they kept the ball brilliantly, causing frustration around Fratton Park. With that frustration too came a nasty edge to the game, and tackles were flying in from both sides, forcing the hand of the referee.

And his hand was forced once again with three minutes to go when Portsmouth countered from a Dons corner, and Carlton Morris chased relentlessly and his tactical foul just as Marquis was about to shoot earned him a red card.

Portsmouth would take full of advantage of their numerical advantage too, with substitute Marcus Harness rounding keeper Nicholls, who ventured into No Man's Land in stoppage time to make it 3-1.

Tranmere's 3-2 win over Shrewsbury means Dons are 10 points above the drop zone now, and remain 18th in the table.

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 16,557 (170)

Portsmouth: Bass, McCrorie, Raggett, Burgess, Brown, Naylor, Close, R Williams (McGheehan 77), Cannon (Harness 77), Curtis (Seddon 90), Marquis

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Whatmough, Seddon, Pitman, Hawkins

MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington, Moore-Taylor, G Williams, Poole, Houghton (Reeves 82), Gilbey, Thompson (Nombe 77), McGrandles (Gladwin 62), Houghton, Morris

Subs not used: Fisher, Walsh, Brittain, Kasumu

Booked: Burgess, Cannon, Lewington, Poole

Sent off: Morris