Portsmouth scored twice in the final six minutes to come-from-behind and defeat MK Dons on a disappointing afternoon at Stadium MK.
Ike Ugbo handed the Dons a first-half lead with his first goal for the Club but Matt Clarke and substitute Conor Chaplin both struck late to take all three points and keep Dan Micciche’s men inside the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.
Josh Tymon was handed his first Dons start as one of five changes made by boss Micciche. The Stoke City started on the opposite flank by Callum Brittain while Peter Pawlett, Ousseynou Cisse and Ugbo were also re-introduced into the XI.
It was Portsmouth who registered the first shot of the game in the third minute – Connor Ronan with a curling effort which was saved comfortably by Lee Nicholls.
The Dons then went straight on the attack and threatened with Kieran Agard, who couldn’t quite link up with Ousseynou Cisse inside the area. The move eventually led to a chance for Pawlett, whose 25-yard strike was palmed wide by Luke McGee.
Former Dons loanee Matty Kennedy provided an opportunity for Brett Pitman on 7 minutes but the experienced striker couldn’t direct his attempt on target. Kennedy delivered in another cross shortly afterwards but it was dealt with by a strong punch from Nicholls.
A great chance fell the way of Agard in the 11th minute after Upson slid the striker through on goal. However, under pressure from Oliver Hawkins, Agard dragged his shot wide of the right upright with assistance from what appeared to be a slight touch from the Pompey defender.
Portsmouth responded through Gareth Evans, who produced a diving save out Nicholls with a fierce drive from distance. Dion Donohue also troubled the Dons goalkeeper with a low shot from 20-yards out before Matt Clarke headed over from a corner.
Then, on 21 minutes, the Dons put together a stunning attacking move which resulted in the opening goal of the match – the first in the Micciche era.
Upson spotted an unmarked Tymon and picked him out with a delightful cross-field pass. The loanee then delivered a low cross which was prodded towards goal by Agard and although McGee kept out the effort, the loose ball fell to an on-rushing Ugbo, who fired home his first goal for the Club. 1-0.
Four minutes after his side fell behind, Pompey midfielder Ben Close went close to an equaliser with a left-footed strike from range which sailed a yard over the crossbar. At the other end, the Dons threatened through Pawlett, whose teasing cross was just in front of Agard.
Nicholls kept the scoreline at 1-0 with an excellent back-tracking diving save to keep out Pitman’s audacious chip on the half-hour.
Micciche’s men then put together another fine attacking move which resulted in chances for Pawlett and Ugbo – the latter’s effort a stunning half-volley from distance which forced McGee into a top class save. From the resulting corner, McGee was called into action again, this time to keep out a header from Scott Wootton.
Portsmouth looked dangerous as the half drew to a close but the Dons were able to see their lead through to the break.
Visiting boss Kenny Jackett used the half-time interval to make a double switch to his starting XI but before either of his additions could touch the ball, the Dons went close to extending their advantage through Ugbo. Unfortunately, the striker couldn’t find the target after a one-two with Agard inside the box.
A good opportunity then fell the way of Evans but from 15-yards out the Pompey man couldn’t beat Nicholls.
Micciche made his first substitution in the 58th minute, introducing Conor McGrandles in place of Pawlett, who had run his socks off all afternoon. Within a minute of that change, his side went agonisingly close to a second goal as Ugbo was denied by McGee after being set up in the area by Agard.
The Pompey goalkeeper was in inspired form and he pulled off another stunning save to deny Upson from the resulting corner – his looping header looked destined for the net. Williams also went close with a header which fell wide of the left upright.
Hearts were in mouths in the 61st minute when Pitman worked his way deep into the penalty area but Nicholls got enough on his shot to allow Wootton the opportunity to get back and clear away in front of the line.
Some more inspired defending denied Jamal Lowe on 65 minutes – this time it was Upson who raced back to get in the way of the substitute’s close-range attempt on goal. Pompey went close again from a corner but the Dons continued to keep their opponents at bay.
There was a real scare with 13 minutes left to play when Hawkins rose to meet a corner which hit the post before being scrambled away by the Dons defence. The visitors then earned themselves a free-kick which was curled over the bar by Pitman.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell was brought on by Micciche but Portsmouth continued to throw men forward and they got themselves level in the 84th minute through a powerful header from their centre-back Clarke. 1-1.
Clarke’s goal was a sucker punch after an impressive display but the real blow came in stoppage-time when substitute Conor Chaplin sneaked in behind the Dons defence and netted a dramatic late winner – a goal which condemned the men from MK1 to a bitterly disappointing home defeat. 1-2.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Wootton, Lewington (c); Upson; Brittain, Pawlett (McGrandles 58), Cisse (Ebanks-Landell 80), Tymon; Ugbo; Agard.
Unused subs: Sietsma, Rasulo, Nesbitt, Thomas-Asante, Muirhead.
Goal: Ugbo (21)
Attendance: 14,762 (6,257 away)
Referee: J Brooks