Magic of the Cup is alive and well for Pompey Academy

Kelechi Iheanacho, left, impressed for Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup last season

Kelechi Iheanacho, left, impressed for Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup last season

Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

Coventry eyeing another Pompey swoop

0
Have your say

The magic of the Cup.

It’s a tired cliche.

Sixteen-year-old Brahim Diaz – the Spanish starlet already dubbed the next Lionel Messi – could be one to follow in his footsteps.

But, just like its parent competition, the FA Youth Cup third-round draw can throw up mouthwatering clashes.

How else could Pompey’s Academy youngsters be preparing for a floodlit Fratton Park clash with Premier League giants Manchester City?

It’s the stuff of dreams.

No, this column is not an attempt to print as many Cup-based cliches as possible.

It is a direct quote from youth-team coach Mikey Harris ahead of his side’s Tuesday night tie (7pm).

It’s a game Pompey fans will not want to miss.

Tuesday night’s clash will be the biggest tie the Blues’ youth team have played since going toe-to-toe with Liverpool in the nineties, so it promises to be a night to remember – regardless of the result.

With tickets priced at just £4 (adults) and £2 (concessions), it is a fantastic opportunity for the Fratton faithful to enjoy a glimpse of the future.

Since Harris and Academy manager Mark Kelly assumed their position in charge of youth-team affairs at the Blues 18 months ago, seven home-grown players have made their senior debuts.

And hopes are high that Tuesday night’s clash will feature a few more future Pompey professionals.

Harris’ side, who will start the tie as underdogs, more than deserve their shout at a famous Cup upset.

Their path to the third round has been as impressive as it has been dramatic, with a brilliant 3-0 win at fellow Youth Alliance League south west outfit Plymouth arriving in the first round.

A memorable Memorial Stadium clash withBristol Rovers followed as the Blues battled back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 – only for the hosts to force extra-time with a stoppage-time equaliser.

A remarkable tie was settled on penalties with goalkeeper Alex Bass the hero – following two stops in the shootout.

Bass, who was spent a large portion of the season on the Blues’ first-team bench as back-up to Brian Murphy, will have to be at his very best to deny a free-scoring City side.

It’s not unrealistic to suggest those who take in Tuesday night’s tie will not only be treated to potential Pompey stars but also future stars of the world stage.

City’s big-spending recruitment drive goes beyond their first-team squad.

Jason Wilcox’s side arrive at Fratton Park as favourites to claim a fourth-round spot and on a mission to go one better than last season’s final defeat to Chelsea.

Kelechi Iheanacho netted in the two-legged showpiece event last time out and has since gone on to establish himself in City’s first team, scoring a last-minute winner yesterday against Swansea to send Manuel Pellegrini’s side to the Premier League summit.

Sixteen-year-old Brahim Diaz – the Spanish starlet already dubbed the next Lionel Messi – could be one to follow in his footsteps.

Having been signed for £300,000 at the age of just 14, hopes are high for the winger who, if selected, will represent an altogether different challenge for Pompey’s defence.

But it will be a challenge the Blues are only too willing to embrace.

Why not go down to Fratton Park and see for yourselves?

Back to the top of the page