POMPEY’S Academy have been told they can take pride in their battling FA Youth Cup exit.
Mikey Harris’ under-18 side fell to a 4-1 third-round defeat to Newcastle at Fratton Park in front of a crowd of 832.
But the scoreline didn’t tell how the Blues grafted and pulled themselves level through Tommy Scutt after falling behind.
And there were other chances against the impressive Category One Premier League side.
Harris knows his side will be disappointed by the margin of defeat but will be able to reflect on a competitive display.
He said: ‘It was a tough night for the boys and Newcastle were excellent.
‘They possess a lot of quality and I can see them going a long way in this competition.
‘We got over the disappointment of the opener with the equaliser and I thought that gave us confidence to try to stay in the game or even nick it.
‘It wasn’t to be, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I thought everyone came off having ran their hearts out. That’s all you can ask for.
‘I tell the boys before the game to give a performance you can be proud of - and I certainly think they did that.
‘I think we had a few chances and looked dangerous on the counter-attack and a threat from set-pieces, even if our quality from deliveries was not right. We always posed a threat right until the last minute.
‘Take nothing away from Newcastle though, they are a fantastic team. They have a talented group with a great attitude. They all seem humble which is nice to see when you come up against a Premier League team.’
Jack Collins was a standout performer as he made a string of decent stop after replacing the injured Nick Hall.
The first-year keeper didn’t deserve to be beaten four times on the night.
Harris said: ‘I was really pleased for Jack. I was pleased for him on one hand and disappointed for Nick on the other, who was outstanding in the first two cup games.
‘But for every disappointment for one person it’s an opportunity for another. Jack’s come in and kept a clean sheet in our last league game.
‘He stepped in at Fratton Park and it’s a great opportunity and experience for him. I don’t think he could do much about the goals, he made some good saves and I was pleased with his distribution.
‘I was pleased with his performance and it’ll stand him in good stead moving forward.’
Now the challenge is for the Academy to continue enjoying success in the league after a six-game winning streak came to a close.
Harris said: ‘The players have to take the disappointment of the loss and use it as fuel to be successful.
‘The cups are done now and it’s time to focus on the league.’