Mikey Harris praised the character of his Pompey Academy side as they returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Swindon on Saturday.
The Blues’ under-18s had lost four straight games heading into the Youth Alliance League south west division fixture, with Harris admitting that confidence levels had taken a knock.
But the hosts refused to fold when they found themselves a goal behind midway through the second half.
Midfielder Dan Smith levelled proceedings against a Robins side led by former Blues midfielder and coach Alan McLoughlin.
And it was striker Matt Mayes who settled an intriguing contest with a stunning last-minute strike to give Pompey a morale-boosting win and bring an end to their losing streak.
Harris said: ‘I think from a confidence point of view, for the boys it was important.
‘When you go on a losing streak like we did, confidence takes a battering.
‘But the boys worked really hard in the week leading up to the game on changing a few things.
‘We looked at being more cohesive as a unit and improving communication.
‘The boys came up with a vocabulary of key words they want to use in a game and in training to improve communication between the team which was really good.
‘We started taking ownership again for performance levels and places in the team.
‘And while we were not at our best from a technical and tactical point of view, we were much better from a psychological aspect – where the emphasis had been.’
And for Harris, that manifested on the pitch where his side refound their resilience to earn a welcome three-point haul.
He added: ‘The game was a really good game – they had chances, we had chances.
‘It was a good tactical battle between the teams.
‘It was good to see Macca, although he will be disappointed Swindon didn’t come away with something.
‘We started well and dominated the ball and then they got to grips with us and for long periods of the game we were having to defend.
‘Swindon are a good side but the key thing for us was that we managed to stay resolute, with the exception of conceding the goal to which we showed a lot of character to come back from.
‘We have possibly been struggling with that lately but we didn’t crumble – we stuck with it and worked hard to get the win in a very short space of time.
‘They were two very good goals – Matt Mayes’ strike in particular was fantastic.’
Pompey Academy are in friendly action this Saturday as they welcome an Elite Showcase side to Furze Lane (11am).