Pompey youngsters eye cup upset

Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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Academy boss Mark Kelly is urging the Fratton faithful to assist Pompey’s youngsters’ bid for a cup upset over Bolton.

The Trotters visit Fratton Park in the third round of the FA Youth Cup tonight (7pm).

The Championship side will encounter a team who have proven to be free-scoring of late, eliminating Plymouth 4-0 and Thamesmead 7-3 in previous rounds.

Bolstered by the availability of the prolific Conor Chaplin following his first-team debut against Accrington, the Blues are confident they have the attacking capabilities.

They will face a Bolton side boasting a Category One Academy, in contrast to Pompey’s Category Three standing.

But Kelly is hoping home advantage can provide the inspiration for the Blues’ in-form kids.

He said: ‘Bolton are a Category One club, we have old staff up there, the likes of Alan Miller who used to work in our Academy, so we know one of two little bits about them and the way they like to go about things, we have a tiny bit of an insight.

‘But it is all about how we approach it and the way our lads have gone about it over the last six months on an individual basis as well as a group basis has been pleasing.

‘Now we have a home tie and the boys want to show what they can do in their home city. We have been on the road quite a lot in the last two months so it is great to be playing at Fratton Park.

‘Maybe the local people can come out and have a look at how they are developing.

‘Obviously with the opportunity to get that little feel of what it is like playing at Fratton Park in front of our home fans it is going to be an enjoyable occasion from that point of view for our players.

‘Hopefully tonight the city can come out and have a little look and see what we are developing, we have one or two really, really good boys coming through.

‘The visit of Bolton offers them the chance showcase their talents – and hopefully individuals stand up and put on a good display.’

The South Stand will be the only section open to supporters for tonight’s fixture, with tickets priced £4 for adults and £2 for seniors, young persons and juniors.

They can be bought from the Frogmore Road ticket office until kick-off.

The under-18s, who are managed by Mikey Harris, are presently fourth in the Youth Alliance South-West League.

And Kelly is pleased with their progress.

He added: ‘It is about producing players and sometimes they have won 4-1 or 5-1 but we have not been happy with the work.

‘It is very much about giving them that education around it.

‘Every six, seven, eight weeks we will change the system to provide them with a greater understanding of what the systems are all about if they step up into the first-team environment.

‘We want to give a real sound base education and that is the pleasing thing, they have really embraced it and got on with the work. It’s all coming together.’

Pompey Academy (from): Bass, Davies, Field, Nilsen, Haunstrup, Granger, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rwakarambwe, Chaplin, Sayers, Gill, Joseph-Buadi, Haitham, George, Widdrington