Kelly wants Pompey kids to emulate Manchester City show

Mark Kelly. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mark Kelly. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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Manchester City enabled a Pompey point to be proven.

Now Mark Kelly is urging his youngsters to repeat that admirable level of performance upon their FA Youth Cup return.

The Blues’ under-18s host Eastleigh tonight (7pm) in the competition’s first round.

Last term they reached the third round before eliminated 2-1 by Premier League side City.

The triumphant visitors progressed to the final, where they lost 4-2 on aggregate to Chelsea over two legs.

Almost a year since that defeat at City’s hands, Kelly’s regard for his youngsters’ performance that night has not diminished.

It was a stirring display in front of a Fratton Park crowd of 1,779 in which they emerged with immense credit.

It took Brahim Abdelkadel Diaz’s goal nine minutes from time to separate the teams.

And Academy chief Kelly hopes the youngsters can once again perform on the big stage in front of a home crowd.

He said: ‘Last year was a fantastic turn-out from supporters.

‘Everybody present enjoyed a really, really good game of football.

‘The match kind of went all the way, too.

‘It took our lads a little bit of time to settle into it because the pace was a bit different but they built and built to get themselves into the game.

‘Once we got it back to 1-1, for a period of 10 to 15 minutes Manchester City were on the back foot.

‘Then the little lad in midfield scored an excellent goal to win it – that was the difference.

‘That night showcased the fact that, while there may be categories in EPPP, there isn’t a lot of difference when it comes to the quality of players we are trying to produce.

‘It ensured our lads took a lot of confidence going forwards, they know they can set their sights on a stage.

‘We talk about youth development, process of individuals and how they must show what they can do.

‘Well, last year the likes of Jez Bedford, Adam May and Theo Widdrington really, really grew into themselves to demonstrate what levels they can produce.

‘There are some lads producing good work at the moment and it’s about those individuals showcasing themselves, demonstrating what they can do as an individual but also how they can settle into a team.

‘It’s always great to play in front of your home fans, for them to see exactly the type of players coming through.’

Tickets for tonight’s game are priced at £4 for adults and £2 for seniors (62 or above), special concessions and those aged 22 and under.