Young guns step up in first Academy win

Jae Heon Kim was brought down in the penalty area, allowing Bradley Tarbuck to score from the spot
Jae Heon Kim was brought down in the penalty area, allowing Bradley Tarbuck to score from the spot
Brett Pitman celebrates his winner against Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Andy Awford praised Pompey Academy’s professionalism as they kick-started their campaign.

The under-18 side picked up a decent 2-0 victory at Northampton to get their first win of the season in the Football League Youth Alliance south east conference.

Bradley Tarbuck opened his account with the first from the penalty spot, after Jae Heon Kim was brought down.

Then, under-16 Brandon Joseph-Buadi celebrated his elevation to the team with the second from Fahad Rwakarambwe’s cross before the break.

Northampton asked more questions after the interval, but the Academy held firm and looked solid as they were pressured.

Awford felt the team could and should have had further goals on the break against the Cobblers.

That was one area he will be looking for improvement in moving forward.

But, overall, Awford was pleased with the attitude shown from his players to pick up the win.

He said: ‘It was a good result and performance overall.

‘Brandon is an under-16 who made his competitive debut for us and got the second goal, so we’re delighted for him.

‘It was a good performance. We were 2-0 up at half-time and they put us under a bit of pressure in the second-half.

‘But we’ve withstood it, they couldn’t open us up and we had chances on the counter.

‘We could have had more goals, if I’m honest.

‘So not taking our chances is a little disappointing.

‘We could have really killed them off with three or four in the end.

‘But it was a good, solid performance, very professional and it was a big improvement on the week before against Peterborough.

‘It’s progress for us that is being made and we are pleased with that.’

It was a good weekend for Pompey, with the under-16s also picking up a 1-0 win over Northampton.

With the first team also getting their opening League Two success, it meant a positive string of results for the Blues – with not a single goal conceded along the way.

Another boost for Awford was seeing the displays of the two under-16 players called on to turn out for the under-18s.

Joseph-Buadi and keeper Alfie Raine both stepped up and impressed.

And their call-ups meant under-15 players moving into the under-16 side who were victorious.

Awford feels stepping up through the age groups and gaining experience against older players is helpful to their development.

He said: ‘The under-16s won 1-0 as well which was pleasing.

‘We have to add that both groups were young

‘For the under-18s, we had two under-16s start the game.

‘Obviously that then leaves holes in the under-16s so we had under-15s playing for them.

‘It gives these players good exposure to moving through the levels. So that’s good experience for all the lads.’