Sayers strikes to end Academy season on a high

Liam Sayers, right   Picture: Mick Young

Liam Sayers, right Picture: Mick Young

The Pompey players celebrate winning the League Two title on the final day of the 2016-17 season following their 6-1 win against Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

Gallen: Let’s carry momentum of Pompey title win into opener

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Liam Sayers’ fine solo goal ensured Pompey Academy enjoyed a winning end to their Merit League 1 campaign after they beat Southend 1-0 at Furze Lane today.

Mikey Harris’ side were made to work hard for the points by a stubborn Shrimpers side but showed great character to bounce back from three successive defeats and close the season on a high.

The Blues spurned a good chance to take the lead inside the opening five minutes, after Kaleem Haitham was unceremoniously fouled on the right – earning his opponent Abdul Salami an early booking.

James Granger curled in the resulting free-kick, but from close range Chad Field was unable to adjust his feet in time and fired wide of the far post.

Southend came back into the game as the half wore on, with skilful winger Renei Batlokwa catching the eye with several neat touches.

But still it was Pompey who held the greater threat, highlighted by Sayers’ sharp turn and shot which flew narrowly over the bar.

Five minutes later, though, and it was that man Sayers who provided the breakthrough.

The Blues striker took the ball in his stride on the half-hour mark, before embarking on a mazy run that culminated in a low, measured finish from the edge of the box.

No sooner had they gone ahead, though, the hosts were breathing a huge sigh of relief.

A defensive mix-up let in Batlokwa but home keeper Alex Bass was quick off his line to block his powerful goal-bound shot with his face.

Bass needed to be alert again at the start of the second half to deny Harry Phillips.

However, he was left as a spectator on the hour mark when Joe Bedford fired over for the visitors from close range with the goal gaping.

Haitham was posing a threat up front for the Blues on the counter-attack but his failure to provide a second goal did not prove costly as the hosts doggedly held on for victory.

POMPEY ACADEMY: Bass, Davies, Nilsen, Field, Haunstrup, Rwakarambwe (Yates, 60), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Granger (Bedford, 68), Haitham, Joseph-Buadi, Sayers (Woodward, 72)

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