MARK KELLY assessed Pompey Academy’s 1-1 draw with Oxford on Saturday and admitted: It was a fair result.
The Academy boss looked on from the sidelines as the Blues’ youngsters battled back from a 1-0 deficit at the break to bag a deserved point at Furze Lane.
James Granger’s superb second-half free-kick clinched a share of the spoils for the hosts in the Youth Alliance League south west division after Josh Williams had opened the scoring for the Us.
Kelly said: ‘It was a hard-fought game and I think a point was probably about right the way it panned out.
‘Both teams worked hard to try to get the ball in the right areas.
‘There were bits and pieces that were very good and also some impressive individual performances.
‘The two young under-16s (defensive duo Kyle McDowell and Ousman Saidy) who came in for us were excellent – it’s a good step up for them.
‘In terms of the game, we had good control of it but there wasn’t enough attacking penetration.
‘We were keeping hold of the ball for the sake of keeping it.
‘We (Kelly and under-18s coach Mikey Harris) said to them at half-time about trying to get in behind their centre halves because they weren’t the most mobile in the world.
‘And the lads went about that well in the second half.
‘Conor (Chaplin) and Gilly (Lewis Gill) both got in and had chances but it was one of those games, again, where we just needed to finish them off.’
The Blues were able to take one of their chances, though, in spectacular fashion to ensure the seventh-placed side left the contest with something to show for their endeavours.
And Kelly reserved special praise for goalscorer Granger, while lamenting the misfortune of wing-back Calvin Davis whose brave last-gasp header flew agonisingly over the crossbar.
He added: ‘It was a great finish from James Granger.
‘He practises them a lot to be fair to him and he has scored two of them this season already now.
‘Calvin is a little bit more frustrated about the header he has missed at the end, though, when he got across his man.
‘We were working on that in training last week and he scored about four of them.
‘He’s done well to muscle his way in there, though, as Oxford are a big powerful side – I think they are holding quite a few second years this year, so they will have a drop off next year.
‘We’ve got a big mixture of first and second years, but our boys didn’t give anything away and dealt well with the physicality of the fixture.’
Pompey Academy do not have a game this weekend and are next in action at Swindon on October 11.