All eyes on Caolan Lavery in Pompey reserve win

Caolan Lavery in action for Pompey reserves against Cardiff yesterday Picture: Colin Farmery
Caolan Lavery in action for Pompey reserves against Cardiff yesterday Picture: Colin Farmery
Wes Thomas gave Oxford the lead after a fumble by Pompey keeper Luke McGee Picture; Joe Pepler

Oxford United 3 Pompey 0 – Neil Allen’s match report

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The pretenders to Gareth Evans’ first-team spot both struck for Pompey.

But it was a maiden appearance from Caolan Lavery which attracted the most attention in yesterday’s behind-closed-doors fixture.

Brian Murphy made a welcome return to action after injury Picture: Colin Farmery

Brian Murphy made a welcome return to action after injury Picture: Colin Farmery

Cardiff City’s development squad visited the Blues’ training ground, only to suffer a 2-1 defeat.

Ian Foster’s reserves were far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests in an impressive performance, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.

During that period, Conor Chaplin and Kal Naismith both netted to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage at half-time.

The duo are both vying to replace the suspended Evans for Saturday’s trip to Newport County and did their chances no harm.

Ultimately, Dylan Rees pulled one back in stoppage-time as the scoreline ended 2-1 at the Copnor Road venue.

But while keeper Brian Murphy made his return from a groin injury, all eyes were on substitute Lavery following his loan arrival from Sheffield Wednesday.

The Pompey newcomer entered in the 61st minute for Ben Tollitt and looked bright and energetic.

Keeper Luke O’Reilly even parried a goal-bound shot at his near post with eight minutes remaining to deny the Owls loanee a goal on his debut.

And first-team coach Foster was delighted with the 22-year-old’s first Pompey contribution.

He said: ‘It was great to get Lavs on for 29 minutes.

‘He had a hard training session on Monday so we have to be careful with him because he has not played a great deal of football recently.

‘But it was nice for Lavs to have a runaround and get some understanding with one or two of the senior players.

‘I thought he was very, very bright, his movement was excellent, his link-up play is very, very good as well.

‘He penetrates, he runs channels, he occupies centre-halves. He was very, very bright when he came on.

‘I thought his first training session on Monday was exceptional. He really, really was positive in that and for 29 minutes yesterday very bright.’

Pompey named Adam Webster, Danny Hollands, Nigel Atangana, Brandon Haunstrup, Naismith and Chaplin in their starting line-up – having all occupied the bench at Cambridge United at the weekend.

In the 26th minute the hosts took the lead when Naismith clipped a pass through from the left and Chaplin stretched to nick the ball past the keeper.

Moments later the ball ricocheted into the path of Chaplin to put him clean through, yet he took too long to shoot and was dispossessed.

Chaplin also had a goal ruled out for offside, before Pompey increased their lead on 42 minutes.

Haunstrup crossed from the left and Naismith met it with a sweet left-foot half-volley.

Rees sidefooted home a consolation with almost the last kick of the game, but Pompey deservedly won.

POMPEY: Murphy (61 mins Bass), Davies (61 mins Joseph-Buadi), Webster, Hollands, Haunstrup (76 mins Haitham), May, Atangana (76 mins Sayers); Tollitt (61 mins Lavery), Boco, Naismith, Chaplin (76 mins Oxlade-Chamberlain)