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29 December 2019 Venue Stadium mk Attendance

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Preview: Portsmouth

All you need to know ahead of today's Sky Bet League One fixture at Stadium MK...

29 December 2019

MK Dons welcome Portsmouth to Stadium MK this afternoon looking to end the calendar year on a positive note by securing their third straight home win.

Russell Martin’s men have enjoyed home successes over Coventry City and Oxford United so far this month and will want to maintain that form with a result that could, if results go in their favour elsewhere, be enough to see them move out of the bottom three in Sky Bet League One in time for New Year’s Day.

They go into the match on the back of two disappointing performances away at Gillingham and Southend United but the Dons remain optimistic, not just because of their recent home form, but the healthy state of the frontline.

Joe Mason, Sam Nombe and Rhys Healey are all fit for the first time this campaign and were all involved in the goals on Boxing Day – Mason and Healey found the net while Nombe contributed to the former’s opener.

Boss Martin will hope his frontmen can be on song again today and fire the Dons to an important home win. Kick-off is at 3pm.

THE OPPOSITION
Portsmouth are the form team in Sky Bet League One heading into this afternoon's match at Stadium MK.

With four wins to their name over their last six encounters, Kenny Jackett’s side have climbed to eighth in the table and they will have eyes on the play-off places heading into 2020.

portsmouth cele.jpg

That said, away from home is where Pompey have struggled the most, with just two victories to their name in 2019/20 and only one since the start of October.

In terms of goals, Ronan Curtis is the main man for Portsmouth having found the net nine times already this term. John Marquis and Ellis Harrison are also players to watch out for – they each have scored four goals.

LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons twice surrendered a one-goal advantage as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Southend United at Roots Hall.

Joe Mason put the Dons ahead on Boxing Day with his fourth goal in six games but Jason Demetriou levelled for the hosts from the penalty spot.

Substitute Rhys Healey marked his return from injury with a goal to restore the Dons’ lead, but that lasted just two minutes as Southend, again, equalised – Rob Kiernan heading in the decisive leveller from a corner.

Portsmouth maintained their excellent Sky Bet League One form by beating table-toppers Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 at Fratton Park.

After a tightly-contested hour, Ben Close put Pompey ahead, firing home a loose ball after Ellis Harrison had hit the post from six yards.

Kenny Jackett’s side then doubled their lead through Curtis, who got the deftest of touches to Marcus Harness’ venomous cross.

FIGHTING TALK
Russell Martin: “I can’t wait to get back to our home pitch. At home, our performances have been really good and our last two results have been good too. I’d like to think that it will be a game that will suit us better than the last two did.”

TEAM NEWS
Russell Martin revealed no fresh injury concerns for MK Dons when he met with the media after the Boxing Day draw with Southend United.

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Sam Nombe made his first start since September in that match at Roots Hall while Rhys Healey came off the bench for his first appearance for three months. Both are expected to be involved again this afternoon.

Jordan Moore-Taylor remains the Dons’ only absentee. He is expected to the upcoming home matches due to a knee problem.

Portsmouth look set to be without defender Ross McCrorie due to a hamstring injury.

Lee Brown and Brandon Haunstrup are not expected to return before the New Year while Bryn Morris and Jack Whatmough are also doubts.

OFFICIALS
Leigh Doughty will take charge of today's affair at Stadium MK.

This is Doughty’s first season in the EFL and Sunday will be the first time he has refereed either the Dons or Portsmouth.

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So far this season, the rookie has shown 46 yellow cards and two red cards in 16 matches. He has also awarded six penalties.

Kevin Howick and Paul Lister are the assistant referees while Stuart Butler is the fourth official.

HEAD TO HEAD
Dons wins: 0
Dons wins at Stadium MK: N/A
Last Dons win: N/A
Biggest Dons win: N/A

Draws: 2
Draws at Stadium MK: 1
Last draw: 1-1, 26 Feb 2013 (Fratton Park)

Portsmouth wins: 2
Portsmouth wins at Stadium MK: 1
Last Portsmouth win: 1-2, 10 Feb 2018 (Stadium MK)
Biggest Portsmouth win: 2-0, 14 Oct 2017 (Fratton Park)

SKY BET ODDS
Dons win: 3/1
Draw: 5/2
Portsmouth win: 17/20

Click HERE for more Sky Bet odds!

ELSEWHERE IN SKY BET LEAGUE ONE
Accrington Stanley v Burton Albion
AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United
Bolton Wanderers v Shrewsbury Town
Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland
Fleetwood Town v Bristol Rovers
Gillingham v Rochdale
Lincoln City v Ipswich Town
Rotherham United v Peterborough United
Tranmere Rovers v Blackpool
Wycombe Wanderers v Coventry City

FOLLOW IT LIVE
Tickets are priced at £22 adults, £17 seniors and £7 under-18s while under-12s go FREE with an accompanying adult. Supporters can upgrade to premium seats in the East Centre for a £5 premium while an upgrade to clubRed is just £10 more.

To book tickets click HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 0333 200 5343.

Can't make the game? Supporters will be able to watch this match on iFollow MK Dons for just £10 - click HERE to purchase a Video Match Pass!

You can also stay in touch with the action via mkdons.com’s Match Centre, which can be accessed by visiting the home page from 2pm.

There will also be full coverage on the Club’s social media channels while a full match report will be available to view on mkdons.com straight after the final whistle along with full reaction from Russell Martin and a player. Highlights will be available three hours after full-time.

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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 3-1 Portsmouth

Dons end the calendar year in style...

29 December 2019

MK Dons ended 2019 in superb style, beating in-form Portsmouth 3-1 at Stadium MK.

Rhys Healey opened the scoring with a well-taken goal on 35 minutes with Conor McGrandles doubling the lead before half-time courtesy of a stunning curling strike.

Alex Gilbey then made the game safe in the closing stages with a chipped finish, as Russell Martin’s secured their third straight home victory and moved level on points with 21st in the Sky Bet League One table.

Healey made his first start in almost four months as one of three changes made by boss Martin. There was also a return for George Williams, who had been out since November due to suspension, while the other switch saw David Kasumu replace Ben Reeves in midfield.

MK Dons made a composed start and it was one of their additions to the line-up who won them an early free-kick, five yards from the edge of the area. The striker took the free-ick himself but saw his low effort blocked by the Pompey wall.

Portsmouth threatened for the first time soon after. First, Ben Close had a drive blocked by Conor McGrandles, then midfield partner Andy Cannon sailed the rebound harmlessly over Lee Nicholls’ goal.

A vital piece of defending from Kasumu, inside his own box, denied the visitors on their next attack. In the opposition penalty area, Joe Mason wiggled free of his marker but couldn’t pick out a teammate with a chipped cross.

On 11 minutes, Ellis Harrison flashed wide with a shot on the turn, 18 yards from goal. Houghton then got himself in the way of a try from Marcus Harness, following a Portsmouth corner.

The best chance of the opening quarter of an hour came courtesy of the right boot of Harness, whose fierce drive provided a test for Nicholls, who stood up to the challenge with a low save down to his right.

Controversy struck with 21 minutes played as referee Leigh Doughty awarded an in-direct free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box for what he deemed to be a handball by Nicholls from a Walsh pass-back.

The Welshman didn’t appear to deliberately play the ball back while the spot of the foul was questioned by the men in white. Fortunately, though, the Dons saw out the free-kick, courtesy of a wall the length of the goalmouth.

The danger wasn’t truly over, however, as Pompey came back on the attack once again. A loose ball fell to midfielder Cannon on the left corner of the box and he fired a fierce half-volley just a yard wide of the far post.

Portsmouth definitely looked the more threatening of the two sides heading into the break but on 35 minutes that all changed.

Houghton did brilliantly, initially, in the middle of the park to win possession before playing a pass over the top for Healey to chase. James Bolton got his head to the ball but that only diverted it into Healey’s path and the striker made no mistake when one-on-one with Craig MacGillivray, confidently placing his effort past the Pompey goalkeeper on the full. 1-0.

The Dons went straight back on the attack and Gilbey had a shot deflect just past the post following a marauding run through the centre of the park. The midfielder went close again moments later, with a dipping drive which bounced wide of the target.
Martin’s men did, though, manage to double their lead three minutes before half-time, courtesy of a stunning curling strike from McGrandles.

Lewington started the move with an outside-of-the-boot pass over to Healey, who, in turn, played a ball inside to Mason. Naylor stuck a foot in to intercept the ball but that carried it through McGrandles who, 20 yards from goal, didn’t hesitate before curling home into the top right-hand corner of the net. 2-0.

The Dons maintained their lead through until half-time and then went close to extending it within a minute into the second period – Gilbey, afforded space on the edge of the area, producing a fingertip save from MacGillivray with a right-footed drive. Gilbey tried his luck again, three minutes later, but this time couldn’t keep his effort down.

At the other end, substitute John Marquis went close for Pompey, but saw his shot saved by Nicholls. The MK Dons number one produced another excellent stop from the resulting corner, keeping out Ronan Curtis’ far post effort at point-blank range.

The Dons responded and thought they had a third when Healey’s glanced header was diverted towards goal by a Pompey defender, who managed to get enough on the ball to take it wide of goal. From the resulting corner, MacGillivray smothered a loose ball at the feet of Healey, inside the six-yard box.

Martin went to the bench for the first time on 67 minutes, replacing Healey with Nombe in attack. The boss had his goalkeeper to thank for keeping the two-goal advantage in tact a minute later, as Nicholls pulled off a sublime diving save to deny Harness what would have been a stunning goal.

Brittain almost had himself a cracker on 71 minutes but lifted his right-footed shot over from the edge of the area. Portsmouth then threatened again from a Gareth Evans corner, which was flicked on to an unmarked Curtis, who failed to hit the target from close range.

The Dons maintained their attacking mindset and saw Kasumu curl a right-footed shot into the arms of MacGillivray from 20 yards out. Martin’s second substitution was made shortly after – Agard on for Mason.

Houghton headed over from a Lewington corner with 12 minutes to play, shortly before Gilbey fired wide, as MK Dons looked for a third goal to put the game to bed.

That third goal arrived with five minutes to play and it came courtesy of the red-hot Gilbey. Nombe won possession on the half-way line before threading a pass through to the MK Dons number 8, who raced into the area before lifting a delicate chip over MacGillivray and into the Cowshed net. 3-0.

Portsmouth grabbed a goal late on through Ronan Curtis – a header which keeps the Dons inside the relegation zone due to goal difference. However, they go into the New Year with a renewed sense of confidence that their time in the bottom three may, soon, be over. 3-1.

MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington, Walsh, Gilbey, Healey (Nombe 67), McGrandles, Mason (Agard 78), Houghton, Brittain, Kasumu

Subs: Moore, Poole, Cargill, Reeves, Boateng

Goals: Healey (35), McGrandles (42), Gilbey (85)

Booked: McGrandles, Walsh

Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Walkes, Naylor, Burgess, Curtis, Bolton, Cannon (Pitman 71), Harness (Evans 71) Raggett, Harrison (Marquis 46), Close

Subs: Bass, Downing, Hawkins, Mnoga

Goal: Curtis (90+3)

Booked: Harness, Burgess

Referee: L Doughty

Attendance: 12,788 (5,083 away)

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