Match Report by Martin Atherton
MK Dons were once again left frustrated at Fratton Park on Saturday after another good performance failed to yield a positive result.
Tom Naylor’s early opener was cancelled out by a Scott Fraser penalty after the Pompey back line made a hash of dealing with a Carlton Morris cross, but it was the Dons’ own lackadaisical defending that allowed Ellis Harrison to fire home the hosts’ winner from the spot.
Kenny Jackett’s side had nearly found themselves in front just a minute into the game, Marcus Harness almost connecting with a Ronan Curtis cross to tap into an empty net in a near escape for the men from MK1.
But the Dons weren’t allowed to get away with it on the resulting corner, Tom Naylor rising highest to meet an in-swinging ball and condemn Martin’s side to yet another early, poor concession of a goal. 1-0.
The Buckinghamshire outfit’s adversities continued as the opening 10 minutes played out, the midfield chasing their counterparts’ shadows whilst the defence were continuously torn out of position and left for dead.
But against the run of play it was Morris who provided the next decisive moment, leaving his marker for dead and crossing an inch-perfect ball for fellow Canaries loanee Louie Thompson. The latter was promptly hacked down in the box before Fraser stepped up to coolly convert the spot-kick, opening his Dons account and drawing the tie level. 1-1.
The going then suddenly moved in favour of the away side who so nearly took the lead from a corner, but disaster struck once again as George Williams brought down his opposite number to gift Harrison the opportunity to put the hosts back ahead from the spot. 2-1.
The rest of the first half continued to be played out in an end-to-end fashion, both sides’ defences contributing to the excitement thanks to their inabilities to remain organised and composed on the ball. HT 2-1.
The Dons started to fully come into their own in the early second period, controlling vast swathes of possession whilst also creating some chances of real quality. Summer signing Fraser proved integral to this, smartly dictating play from deep whilst also putting himself in excellent positions to receive the ball further forward.
But these chances were not met with the clinical finishing they merited, Sam Nombe going closest with an effort from two yards out straight at Blues ‘keeper MacGillavray. Morris, whilst far busier this week in creating chances for his teammates, continued to draw a blank in front of goal.
Friday’s signing Cameron Jerome entered the fray shortly after to offer his experience, but the veteran failed to make an impact other than earning a booking for accidentally knocking MacGillavray mid-air.
And despite Lasse Sørensen’s late introduction further boosting the Dons’ attacking prowess on paper, that elusive equaliser was never to be found as Martin’s slide slumped to a third defeat in five league games, still to put three points on the board. FT 2-1.
Another solid performance on paper – 71% possession and 19 shots overall – but, yet again, we failed to capitalise on our superiority and take the game by the scruff.
Fraser’s post-match thoughts are well worth a watch – to quote vaguely, until we develop the mentality of being ruthless in both boxes and putting sides to the sword, there is no point us continuing to dominate games and batter teams in midfield.
Now lying rock bottom of the table, Russ will be aware that the pressure will be on if his side continue their sluggish start to the season over the coming weeks’ congested fixture list.