Mikey Harris has called for more resilience from his Pompey youngsters.
That’s after the Blues’ Academy coach saw his side slip to their second Youth Alliance League south-west division defeat of the season.
Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham meant Harris’ side were knocked-off top spot, having been caught out on the counter-attack by their hosts on more than one occasion.
Harris accepted his players made mistakes in the game, but believes it is how they respond to these errors that really matters.
‘Some of the lads didn’t respond very well to the mistakes which were made out on the pitch,’ he said.
‘It is now our job as the coaching staff to install the confidence and resilience in them to bounce back from these mistakes.
‘In terms of their learning syllabus, we are on a defensive rota and this may have led to us taking the emphasis off the attacking element of our game.
‘Even though we held possession well, Cheltenham we able to exploit us on the counter and that was the difference on the day.’
The Blues were without a few of their more experienced players for the trip to Cheltenham.
With Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out through illness, and Alex Bass and Adam May joining up with the senior squad, a lot of the responsibilty fell on the shoulders of Pompey’s first-year scholars.
‘Now is the time for the younger lads to step up quickly and perform on the pitch and realise this is a great pathway for them,’ added Harris.
‘We want to stretch everyone at the Academy as much as possible, so that means giving the 16 and 17-year-olds more game time.
‘With some of the second years moving on to the senior team or going out on loan it shows that we must be doing something right.
‘We just need the first years to follow suit.’
With Calvin Davies linking up with the Hawks on loan, Harris is anticipating more of the senior members of his squad to follow in his footsteps.
Harris said: ‘All the players need some form of senior football, whether it be this season or next.
‘We need to judge each of the lads individually and assess how far along in their development they are.
‘Do I expect to see more of the second-year scholars moving on this season? Certainly.
‘Especially over the Christmas period where teams are reshaping ahead of a very busy fixture schedule.’