Academy youngsters catch the eye in Reading win

Alex Bass, far left    Picture: Neil Marshall
Alex Bass, far left Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Picture gallery: Pompey 1 Walsall 1

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MIKEY HARRIS has praised the performances of Pompey’s Academy youngsters in Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors friendly win over Reading.

The Blues impressed in a 3-1 victory over the Royals’ under-21s side, with youth-team graduates Conor Chaplin – who netted a double – and Chad Field on the scoresheet.

Bassy kept a clean sheet in the first half and looked very assured – he did everything asked of him

Academy coach Mikey Harris

Six of the current crop of second-year scholars were involved in the action, with goalkeeper Alex Bass particularly impressive.

He was the only under-18s player to start the game, with Kaleem Haitham, Brandon Joseph-Buadi, Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam May and Liam Sayers all brought on at various stages of the second half.

And for Academy coach Harris, it was a worthwhile exercise for all concerned – especially Bass, who has been acting as back-up to Wolves loanee Aaron McCarey for the first team in recent weeks.

‘Bassy kept a clean sheet in the first half and looked very assured – he did everything asked of him,’ said Harris.

‘It was good for him to get some minutes under his belt.

‘He has obviously been covering for the first team as their number two which has been a fantastic experience.

‘And he is growing all of the time – when I say growing I don’t just mean physically!

‘I mean in stature as a player, although he is growing physically as well, he is massive now.’

Pleasingly for Harris, those who entered the fray after the break were also able to hold their own against decent opposition, with the onus now on the Blues’ coaching staff to arrange more behind-closed-doors friendlies.

He said: ‘The other boys all did well when they came on and certainly didn’t look out of place against a category one academy under-21s side.

‘It was a good learning curve for them – a good challenge and that is what you want for them.

‘You want them to have the opportunity to play against older, better, stronger players so to speak and see how they respond to it.

‘They are an honest bunch of lads and all applied themselves very well, albeit for a short period of time.

‘But they will get plenty more opportunities to perform in that environment before the end of the season.

‘Myself, Fozzy (first-team coach Ian Foster) and all of the staff are making sure we gather together to arrange games and provide game time for those who need it.’

Pompey Academy return to action on Saturday, having been without a game last weekend, when they host Yeovil at Furze Lane (11am).

Eddie Wakley (ankle) and Cameron Green (knee) remain absent with Dory Yates (ankle) also a doubt.

– JEFF MARSHMAN