Pompey players of tomorrow steal limelight from Hreidarsson

Ashley Harris, left, impressed against IBV
Ashley Harris, left, impressed against IBV
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss: Signs of progress are there

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As Hermann Hreidarsson bid a Fratton farewell, the next generation uttered a collective Pompey hello.

Tuesday’s friendly with IBV centred on the ever-popular Hermannator and bolstering funds for the Pompey Supporters’ Trust as they prepare to complete their takeover.

Yet it was the Academy fledglings who stole the show in front of 6,780 supporters.

First-year scholar Bradley Tarbuck opened the scoring in the 18th minute, before Liam Walker added another in the second half.

Tarbuck was joined in Guy Whittingham’s starting line-up by Harry Medway, Jack Whatmough, Liam Triggs and Nick Awford.

Lewis Horsburgh and Kim Jae Heon appeared as substitutes, while second-year scholars and first-team members Adam Webster and Jack Maloney also featured. Not forgetting 19-year-old Ashley Harris, of course, who posted a reminder of his talents with a man-of-the-match display for the hosts.

For the vast majority of the starlets, it was a nerve-wracking occasion played in front of crowd numbers never before experienced.

Nonetheless, they shone in the 2-1 victory and Whittingham was proud of how they coped with the occasion.

He said: ‘It was a fantastic experience for the young kids, to play in front of 6,500 fans was a great experience for them.

‘You cannot practice anywhere else, you cannot put them under the pressures of that sort of thing.

‘Although it was all good natured, there was still a little bit of pressure on them.

‘At the end, one of their players said to me he was nervous because he hadn’t played in front of so many people before.

‘I thought our lads did really well and I was really pleased. It’s nice to see them out there as well.

‘Ash (Harris) did well. I was more pleased with his second half rather than his first because the effort he put in was great.

‘Like most people he hasn’t had enough games and probably thinks he should have had more and we always want to try to give players as many minutes as we can.

‘Ash is a striker and when he gets opportunities to play up front – like on Tuesday – he has to take full advantage of it.

‘But I don’t think there was one of them I was disappointed with.

‘They all took the game as it was meant to be taken with a good workout and the young lads stepped up to the mark as well.’

It was an occasion to savour for the Fratton faithful as well as they were also given more than a whiff of nostalgia.

A bumper crowd turned up to show their support for both Hreidarsson and the Trust and the atmosphere was suitably special.

Whittingham added: ‘It was great for Hermann. I think he sums up what the fans want to see in a player and it’s great for him they got to say goodbye in that way.

‘The crowd was unbelievable. I went round the lounges as well and they were all packed, it’s lovely to see that.

‘It’s great, it’s the whole euphoria of what is going on and we have to make sure we keep that going.’