Pompey Academy are hoping to unearth a diamond – by playing in a diamond formation.
That’s how the Blues’ youngsters started their new Youth Alliance League south west division season last Saturday.
Newport County were the visitors as Harvey Bradbury netted twice for Pompey in a 2-2 draw at Furze Lane.
Academy boss Mark Kelly explained the Blues will look to rotate systems thoughout the course of the campaign in order to give players the best possible chance of earning a professional deal at the club.
He said: ‘We played with a diamond system on Saturday.
‘We will probably do six to seven weeks in a block and then we will rotate formations.
‘Part of the boys’ education is to learn different roles in systems because if they step up and the manager turns around and says “I want to play this way today” then they have be able to adapt.
‘We see that as a part of life.
‘You’ve got to know the game and this is a valuable education for them.
‘We will look to change it up and dip in and out of systems with an eye on what the first team are playing as well.
‘But over the season we will try to give them a whole rounded education to come through.’
For Kelly, the benefits of playing in a diamond system are clear, although things didn’t all go to plan in the new formation last weekend.
He said: ‘Playing in a diamond you have basically got four against two in midfield so you should be able to find space very easily – but you have got to be brave on the ball.
‘That’s what we were in the first half and should have been 2-0 up walking in.
‘But in the second half, they (Newport) pressed us high up the pitch.
‘And instead of getting braver, we started to panic a little bit, going long and mistakes started to occur.
‘Talking to them afterwards, the midfield boys were a little disappointed with the way they lost the control of the game.’
The fact the Blues were unable to see out the win was a source of frustration to Kelly & Co – although the result was secondary to the performance.
He said: ‘It’s a great learning curve – we are not going to go down the track with results.
‘Results are results – it is about the education you get in and around it.
‘We have seen it with the first team. Teams will come to frustrate us and we will have to break through the lines to create and make things happen.’
Pompey Academy are back in action this weekend when they host Plymouth at Furze Lane on Saturday (midday).
– JEFF MARSHMAN