MK Dons moved to within five points of the automatic promotion places in Sky Bet League One courtesy of a 2-1 win away at Portsmouth.
Goals in the first half from Mo Eisa and Theo Corbeanu gave Liam Manning’s men a two-goal lead which they just about kept hold of en route to another big away victory thanks, in part, to debutant goalkeeper Jamie Cumming, who produced a stunning late save.
MK Dons made two changes from their midweek win over AFC Wimbledon, one of which was enforced. Goalkeeper Jamie Cumming, signed on loan from Chelsea on Thursday, stepped in for his Club debut while Peter Kioso replaced an injured Harry Darling. On the bench, there was a return for Aden Baldwin, who had recently been sidelined with an injury.
There was an early touch for Cumming, who comfortably claimed Ronan Curtis’ header from a third-minute corner. He then watched over a close-range effort from Connor Ogilve, who should have done better from 10 yards out.
Cumming was being kept busy in the opening 10 minutes of his debut as he then had to dive down to his left to save from Curtis again – this time the Irish international tried his luck, with his feet, from the edge of the D. Later, Curtis dragged a shot wide from inside the box.
It took the Dons until the 20th minute to have their first opportunity on goal but they made it count, taking the lead through their number 10, Eisa.
Matt O’Riley won possession deep inside the Pompey half and immediately played through the Dons frontman, who took one touch to carry the ball into the area before slotting past Gavin Bazunu with a composed left-footed finish. 0-1.
The Dons worked an opening for Theo Corbeanu as they went in search of a quickfire second but he was quickly closed down and his eventual effort at goal was blocked. Shortly after, O’Riley and Eisa went close to linking up again but the former’s pass, this time, ran through to Bazunu.
Portsmouth, looking for a response, threatened through Marcus Harness on 27 minutes but he fired wide from 25 yards. It then took a vital interception from O’Riley to prevent Mahlon Romeo’s cross from finding a teammate inside the Dons area.
With six minutes to go in the half, the hosts had an opportunity on the counter-attack but Curtis was denied by Cumming. From the resulting corner, Sean Raggett headed over.
At the other end, Twine forced a diving save out of Bazunu following a terrific run down the right from Tennai Watson. The Dons, though, won’t be denied a second before half-time, as Corbeanu fired home a stunner to double the advantage.
As the clock ticked past 45, Harvie found Eisa down the left and although the striker was dispossessed, the loose ball fell straight into the path of Twine who shrug off a defender and took a shot. That effort was blocked but Corbeanu was there to pounce and, without hesitation, he sent a left-footed half-volley flying past Bazunu and into the net off the crossbar. 0-2.
Half-Time – Portsmouth 0-2 MK Dons
The Dons worked an opening for Corbeanu early in the second half but he saw his shot blocked by a Portsmouth defender. As did Twine, when he tried his luck moments later from just inside the area.
Pompey forced Manning’s men under some heavy pressure after that, though they did go agonisingly close with a 58th-minute counter – Corbeanu, after a terrific driving run, saw his shot brilliantly saved by Bazunu and the rebound bounce just past Eisa.
The Dons were then punished for that miss, as Hirst reduced the deficit with Portsmouth’s next attack, converting from Kieron Freeman’s pull-back off the right byline. 1-2.
Romeo blazed over as the home side threatened an immediate equaliser while former Don, Louis Thompson, on as a substitute, fired wide when well placed inside the box.
Manning made his first chance shortly after that, bringing on Hiram Boateng in place of Eisa which pushed Corbeanu up front. He did brilliantly to tee up Harvie with 20 minutes to play but the Scot was blocked off as he went to pull the trigger while Harvie had another opportunity a minute later, crashing a long-range strike against the crossbar.
Baldwin came on for Watson and Troy Parrott replaced Corbeanu as Manning made his final two changes.
The Dons Head Coach had his debutant goalkeeper, Cumming, to thank with a minute left in regulation time as the Chelsea loanee produced a stunning stop to keep out Ogilve’s goal-bound header.
Six minutes of stoppage time were added and his side almost made sure of the points in the second of those but were twice denied by Bazunu.
Pompey then threw everything they had at the Dons’ defence but they stood firm to see out the remainder of the contest and head back to Stadium MK with a huge three points to their name.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson (Baldwin 73), Lewington, O’Hora, O’Riley, Twine, Eisa (Boateng 68), Corbeanu (Parrott 84), Robson, Harvie, Kioso.
Subs: Ravizzoli, McEachran, Parrott, Ilunga
Goals: Eisa (20), Corbeanu (45)
Booked: Robson, Harvie
Portsmouth: Bazunu, Williams (Thompson 62), Harness, Curtis, Freeman (Jacobs 82), Romeo, Ogilve, Hackett-Fairchild, Hirst (Marquis 74), Raggett, Morrell.
Subs: Bass, Brown, Robertson, Carter.
Goal: Hirst (60)
Booked: Hirst, Marquis
Referee: S Oldham
Attendance: 14,958 (494 away)