By Alfie Marlborough
The Dons bow out of the FA Cup following a 3-2 defeat to Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Goals from Darragh Burns and Mo Eisa either side of half-time was not enough to secure the Dons’ place in the third round despite a spirited performance from the visitors.
It was a lively start from Dons who looked very settled in a back four. Holland won the Dons an early corner which was originally cleared by the Pompey defence. The ball was recycled from Devoy who lofted a ball deep into the penalty area which fell to Johnson but his looping header was claimed easily by Griffiths in goal for the hosts.
Shortly after the ten minute mark, Jamie Cumming was forced into making a diving save. Pompey winger Ronan Curtis drove towards the goal before his effort was met by the Dons’ number ne who was equal the shot.
Despite the threat from the Blues, the Dons took the lead just after fifteen minutes through Darragh Burns whos composed finish beat Josh Griffiths. Fellow Irishman Dawson Devoy picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park before playing the ball through to the winger who had just the keeper to beat. The goalkeeper came out to try and gather the ball but Burns was able to Slot the ball home to give the Dons the lead in front of the 203 travelling fans.
It took the host just minutes to equalise with a carbon copy of the Dons’ opener. Reeco-Hackett breached through the backline with ease before collecting a ball played through. The attacking-midfielder took his tome before placing perfectly in the bottom left. Cumming, who came out of his net – was in no mans land and watched the ball roll into the goal.
Despite the setback, the Dons carried on attacking and try to get the ball forward. Nathan Holland was on the receiving end of Josh McEachran’s pass. The winger had acres of space ahead of him but full-back Zak Swanson forced the winger wide. The ball eventually rolled out for a goal-kick.
It went from bad to worse for Dons shortly before the break when Bradley Johnson’s clearance landed at the feet of Ronan Curtis who passed to Mingi who drove towards the goal. Josh McEachran stuck out a leg to try and stop the midfielder but brought the man down leaving referee Sunny Gill with no choice but to point to the spot. Dons’ summer Target Colby Bishop stepped up for the hosts and sent Cumming the wrong way to give the Blues the lead as the game was heading into the break.
The Dons had one final opportunity before the break to get the equaliser through a counter attack when Mingi had a chance saved by Cumming who was quick to release the ball. Nathan Holland drove down the left hand side but a powerful strike goalwards was pushed away from Griffiths in goal.
Deep into two additional minutes and the hosts almost doubled their advantage through a Sean Raggett header which ended up over the bar causing no problems for Jamie Cumming.
HALF-TIME: POR 2-1 MKD
The hosts were awarded a second spot kick just moments after the restart. Jamie Cumming’s pass to Johnson put the midfielder under pressure but that did not excuse the pass after that was played directly into the path of Reeco-Hackett who’s intricate pass found Bishop well just inside the penalty area. Bradley Johnson needlessly tripped up the striker who had a chance to grab his brace. He did just that and blasted the ball straight down the middle to give Pompey a third.
Daniel Harvie had a golden opportunity to pull one back for the visitors from inside the area. It all started with Harvie who did well to find Darragh Burns but his initial attempt was ricocheted back into the feet of the winger who tried finding Mo Eisa who was across the face of goal but it was blocked the the Pompey defender. The loose ball fell to Dan Harvie but his attempt was struck into the stands causing no threat for Griffiths.
The Dons halved the deficit with half-an-hour to go through Mo Eisa who was in the right place at the right time to turn ther ball home. Conor Grant played the ball to Nathan Holland who crossed low into the feet of Eisa who took a touch before tapping the ball past the Portsmouth keeper.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure for the final fifteen minutes and had a few half-chances. Holland and Mingi collided in a 50/50 challenge but the referee was quick to wave on play. Afterwards, Conor Grant was able to get the ball out of his feet but his strike towards goal from close range was well saved by the keeper who got down quickley to parry the ball away.
O’Hora had an effort go just wide in the dying embers of the game. The Irish defender let fly from 30 yards out but ended a few inches wide of the post.
FULL-TIME: POR 3-2 MKD
It ended in defeat for Liam Manning’s MK side who put up a much stronger fight then what we have been seeing in previous weeks but Portsmouth’s quality proved to be just too much for the Dons who had switched to a back four. This second round exit gives the Dons a chance to focus more on the league and getting out of the mess they find themselves in and have a full week of training ahead of them as we look to get back to winning ways in the League back at Stadium MK as we welcome Burton Albion.