MK Dons picked up a third straight home win in League One after Ethan Robson’s goal defeated Portsmouth.
The Dons had dominated the first half, but had been on the backfoot for most of the second half until Robson’s goal midway through the second half was enough to win the game for the home side.
The result means 3 home wins in a row for MK, who had beaten Charlton and Accrington in their previous home matches, as they continue to make a positive start to the new season. The team are in 5th place after the opening 7 games.
Liam Manning’s side had been unbeaten since losing to Sunderland in his first game in charge, and after a late point earned against new boys Cheltenham last time out, the Dons were looking to claim a scalp over Portsmouth. The side from the South Coast had lost each of their last 2 visits to Milton Keynes, but had made a strong start in their aim to return to the second tier.
The Dons side included a start for last weekend’s goalscorer Hiram Boateng – his first for MK Dons since December 2019 – as well as a recall for Troy Parrott following international duty with Ireland. The Spurs loanee would be testing himself against his Irish international colleague Gavin Bazunu, who had saved a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty during Portugal and Ireland’s meeting in World Cup qualifiers.
The first stages of the opening half had seen both sides look to press their opponents, with a few early defensive mistakes seen by both sides.
MK Dons would have the first major chance, as Parrott was able to get space for an angled shot only to be kept out by Bazunu, with Boateng unable to turn in the rebound.
Ryan Tunnicliffe was only able to manage an airshot when trying to strike a deflected Portsmouth cross. Moments after that, MK Dons nearly had a breakthrough as a swift break saw Parrott fire over from Tennai Watson’s cross.
Parrott was proving to be a consistent threat for the Dons. The Spurs loanee would see a cross-shot curl just wide before he then saw Bazunu rush out to put him off when racing to reach a through ball.
Portsmouth then created a great opportunity, as Reeco Hackett-Fairchild reached Kieron Freeman’s cross only to see his header bounce over from close range.
Having avoided conceding from that, MK Dons were briefly on the backfoot but then saw Boateng come mighty close. Having had an initial attempted through pass blocked, Boateng tried again and his snapshot hit the post with Bazunu beaten.
This woke MK Dons up. Parrott had a curling effort well blocked by Bazunu after fine set-up work by Scott Twine, before Twine then saw his own deflected drive from outside the box also saved by the Portsmouth goalkeeper.
Portsmouth could’ve stolen the lead in first half added time, as Sean Raggett headed wide from a corner. The away side would also fail to take advantage of an early corner at the start of the second half.
The away side began the second half with more positive play than they showed in the opening period. Fisher would be called upon to keep out John Marquis’ first-time shot, before the MK Dons keeper made an even better stop to thwart substitute Ronan Curtis after a flying move down the Pompey left.
Portsmouth had spent the second half looking like the more dangerous of the two teams. They would press again, with Marcus Harness firing wide at the end of a swift move.
But from an away corner, it was MK Dons that would instead score first. After dealing with the corner, MK Dons broke quickly, with a searching pass by Parrott allowing Twine to advance and square the ball across. Robson timed his run nicely to meet it, and thump a first-time hit into the back of the net for his first MK Dons goal.
With the morale boost of the goal, it was MK Dons that began to look likelier to find the game’s second goal. Parrott fired wide at the end of a breakaway move, despite Twine arguably being in a better position, before Twine would also see his own low strike go wide of the mark.
The Dons were asked to hold out for five extra minutes, but were able to do so, controlling Portsmouth’s threat and picking up the three points.
MK Dons: Fisher – O’Hora, Darling, Lewington – Watson (Kioso 69), O’Riley, Robson, Harvie – Boateng (McEachran 62) – Parrott (Watters 90), Twine
Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Jules, Brown, Martin
Goal: Robson (71)
Booked: Parrott, Fisher
Portsmouth: Bazunu – Freeman (Romeo 57), Raggett, Robertson, Brown – Williams, Morrell – Harness, Tunnicliffe, Hackett-Fairchild (Curtis 55) – Marquis (Harrison 77)
Subs not used: Bass, Curtis, Ogilvie, Thompson, Azeez