Kids give Appy plenty of Home comforts

Pompey boss praise for riding out defensive storm

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One night, nine first-team debutants, 11 teenagers and 753 appreciative fans.

The 3-0 scoreline may have been an unwelcome statistic but for Pompey supporters the impact made by those involved was massive.

Adam Webster in action at Home Park

Adam Webster in action at Home Park

Of the side which featured at Plymouth last night, substitute Bradley Tarbuck was aged just 16, while there were two players aged 17 in Jack Maloney and Adam Webster.

Then there were the 18-year-old first-year professionals in Dan Thompson, Dan Butler, Sam Magri, George Colson, Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris, Alex Grant and Andy Higgins.

Come the final whistle, the result mattered little to the sizeable away following inside Home Park.

They were more concerned with showing their appreciation for the Pompey youngsters who had given everything and done themselves proud.

And while Michael Appleton was loath to single out individuals for praise, clearly some caught the eye of the Blues boss.

He said: ‘There were good performances throughout the team, loads of good performances.

‘Jed (Wallace) did much better in the second-half.

‘He’s all about getting up and supporting the front men. That is his game.

‘Sometimes he’s as quick in possession of the ball as he is out of it and we need him to slow down.

‘He’s 100mph because he’s like Speedy Gonzales sometimes and needs to slow down and relax. I thought he did well.

‘I thought Sam Magri and Alex Grant defended well at times. They looked in control.

‘Mags will have to cut those mistakes out of his game and he will.

‘It happened a couple of times in Spain and hurt him – but he will get better for that and learn from it.

‘You even had Jack Maloney coming on, beating three or four people and getting crosses in. He had no right to do that.

‘I only brought three players on the bench because I didn’t want them to fear anything – so what a fantastic job because of the circumstances.’

Harris and Webster were the only youngsters on display to have experienced first-team football before.

Even then the Plymouth match was Webster’s first start – and just a 10th appearance between them.

Appleton has long warned about the dangers of blooding players before they are ready, yet last night represented a necessity.

And he insists people must remain patient as the teenagers continue to develop in their new environment.

He added: ‘None of them are ready, I said that after Spain.

‘They have 12 months, two years and some of them have three years [before they’d be ready].

‘Some of them may have to be fast-tracked like we have with Ashley Harris and Adam Webster.

‘We don’t want to do that. We want it to be about progression but hopefully they take the chance if it comes.’