Mikey Harris declared himself pleased with the way Pompey Academy signed off for the year as they battled to an entertaining 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers in the FA Youth Alliance League south west division.
Brandon Joseph-Buadi fired the Blues ahead just before the break, only for the Gas to hit back through Lewis Ellington’s deflected strike on the hour mark and claim a share of the spoils at Furze Lane.
The hosts, though, could count themselves unfortunate not to end 2015 with a win after Calvin Davies saw his penalty saved 20 minutes from time and substitute Jez Bedford rattled the woodwork moments later.
While acknowledging that his side had the chances to claim victory, Harris was full of praise for the effort shown by his players on the back of their impressive FA Youth Cup display against Manchester City on Tuesday night – a match the Blues narrowly lost 2-1.
He said: ‘It was always going to be a challenge on the back of Tuesday night’s experience and I am pleased that the lads came and applied themselves in the right way.
‘They worked hard – physically we looked good considering all of the energy put in (against Man City).
‘All in all, I am pleased – just slightly disappointed we couldn’t keep the clean sheet for them.
‘The key message today is we have to be more clinical and we also should have defended better for their goal.
‘It would have been nice to go into the Christmas break with a win but there’s plenty of lessons learned from today’s game.
‘They boys get a bit of a breather now and then we are back into the games programme in January.’
It took a goal of real quality to open the scoring for Pompey five minutes before half-time when Joseph-Buadi coolly lifted Adam May’s pass over onrushing Rovers goalkeeper Charlie Phillips, before volleying into the net.
The Gas responded on the hour mark, though, when Ellington got free in the area – sending a deflected effort past Nick Hall in the Blues goal.
After a goalmouth scramble, Harris’ side were awarded a penalty for a handball offence but Phillips was equal to Davies’ effort as the home skipper favoured placement over power, only to see the visiting stopper save well down to his right.
Bedford then had the chance to clinch victory but his close-range effort crashed against the post and rebounded out to safety.
POMPEY ACADEMY: Hall, Scutt (McDowell, 70), Saidy, Widdrington, Davies, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Haitham, Woodward (Bedford, 63), Bradbury, Joseph-Buadi