MK Dons endured a sickening final few minutes at stadium:mk as Portsmouth came from behind to take the points in a 2-1 win.
The home side took the lead through Ike Ugbo, with the striker converting a rebound for his first goal at the club. But after both sides demonstrated their profligacy in a lively contest, it was the visitors who got a late leveller when Matt Clarke headed in a corner.
Portsmouth then made things worse for the home side in stoppage time, as Connor Chaplin found the back of the net to win the game for the visitors and leave MK Dons still waiting for their first league win of 2018. The home side remain 22nd in the League One table, but victory for Northampton in a six pointer at AFC Wimbledon leaves them now 4 points from safety.
The Dons entered their clash with play-off chasing Portsmouth in need of a lift after failing to win a League One match since the victory with 9 men against Peterborough in late December. It left the side in need of a lift, as they looked to get it against a Portsmouth side on the edge of the play-off race, but also without a league win in 2018.
With injuries ruling out 4 of the players who began the previous week’s defeat at Walsall, Dan Micciche shuffled his pack to a system with 3 at the back. It was the visitors with the first chance, as Lee Nicholls denied a shot from Connor Ronan.
The returning Peter Pawlett then had the Dons’ first chance as he hit a snapshot that Luke McGee did well to tip behind. A great chance then opened up for Kieran Agard, but with just McGee to beat he put his effort off target.
Portsmouth began to apply the bulk of the pressure, with Nicholls making a flying stop to deny Gareth Evans before Dion Donohue had a low shot denied and Matt Clarke heading a corner wide.
But it was MK Dons who would find the breakthrough. A sprayed ball out wide found Josh Tymon, whose fine cross from the left flank picked out Agard. McGee pulled off the stop to keep him out, but Ugbo was on the scene to tap in the rebound for the first goal of his loan from Chelsea.
It was Portsmouth who responded with further pressure, as Ben Close saw a rasping drive fly narrowly over the crossbar, before a chipped effort by Brett Pitman had to be tipped out by Nicholls.
MK Dons responded with attacks of their own, as a fine half-volley from range by Ugbo had to be tipped wide by McGee, and the keeper also denied Scott Wootton from the follow-up corner.
The first half was a lively affair, and the second half began in the same manner, as MK Dons worked the ball for Ugbo but the striker saw his effort just creep wide.
Portsmouth made a double substitution at the break, and Chaplin was involved in their first big chance of the second half, with his cutback finding Evans, but the strike was denied by Nicholls.
MK Dons then began to apply pressure for a second goal. Good work from Agard set up a break for the visitors but Ugbo’s shot was thwarted by McGee, and the keeper was also on hand to tip away Ed Upson’s header at a corner.
The Dons also came close as George Williams saw a header drift wide from that follow-up. But the lead remained at one, and the Dons nearly played themselves into trouble when an intercepted pass teed up Pitman, who cut inside but saw an effort blocked by Wootton.
The visitors continued to press, with a flying block by Upson stopping Jamal Lowe before Pitman flicked the follow-up corner wide.
Portsmouth’s best chances looked to be coming from set-pieces, and they came close when a header from Ollie Hawkins crept onto the post.
With time running out, the visitors were level from a set-piece, as a short corner routine played the ball to centre-back Clarke, who headed past Nicholls.
The best chance had looked to have been a Dons free-kick that saw Upson’s shot go narrowly wide, with Ethan Ebanks-Landell just unable to make contact.
But there was still time for the game’s third goal, and it came in stoppage time for Chaplin in a sickening blow for the Dons. The substitute was first to a deflected cross, and squeezed the ball under Nicholls to win the match and leave MK Dons with no share of the points.
MK Dons: Nicholls – Williams, Wootton, Lewington – Brittain, Pawlett (McGrandles 57), Cisse (Ebanks-Landell 80), Upson, Tymon – Agard, Ugbo
Subs not used: Sietsma, Muirhead, Nesbitt, Rasulo, Thomas-Asante
Goal: Ugbo (20)
Portsmouth: McGee – Walkes, Hawkins, Clarke, Donohue – Thompson, Close – Evans, Ronan (Chaplin 45), Kennedy (Lowe 45) – Pitman
Subs not used: Bass, Naismith, Deslandes, May, Widdrington
Goal: Clarke (84), Chaplin (90+3)