Kelly pleased despite Pompey Reserves conceding late equaliser

Mark Kelly praised Pompey Reserves' performance in their draw against AFC Wimbledon and insisted: The boys will learn from it.

Thursday, 1st February 2018, 5:29 am
Conor Chaplin takes a shot for Pompey Reserves against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Colin Farmery

The Blues thought they’d won the Central League Cup clash at Privett Park on Tuesday when Theo Widdrington scored a sublime 81st-minute free-kick from 35 yards.

Yet the hosts were unable to see out the game and conceded a 89th-minute equaliser.

Despite first-teamers Conor Chaplin and Adam May lining up for the hosts, it was still a relatively young Pompey side.

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In contrast, the Dons named ex-Blues defender Paul Robinson in their starting line-up, as well as Rangers loanee Harry Forrester.

Kelly felt Pompey were the better side against their Kingsmeadow opponents and reckons the clash will be a valuable experience to help their careers.

‘They were excellent across the park against a good, experienced side,’ the Blues’ youth chief said.

‘We had six or seven really good chances, played some really good football at times and defended really well and got our distances right.

‘It’s just unfortunate they’ve put all that work and energy in (to draw).

‘I said to the boys afterwards that it’s all about killing games off but we just have to learn from it.

‘They played some real good quality football against an experienced side who struggled against it.

‘Conor could have had a couple, Dan Smith had one or two chances.

‘It’s just about approaching and having the right mentality.

‘They were excellent and I’m a bit gutted for them.

‘However, that’s defending and pressing for you.

‘They didn’t really seem like they were going to get absolutely anything and they’ve bundled home their equaliser – that’s all it was.’

After featuring for a total of just 14 minutes in the first team’s past five matches, Chaplin was handed an opportunity to get a valuable full game under his belt against Wimbledon.

Coming up against his former Fratton Park team-mate Robinson, the Worthing talent was his usual, lively self and went close on several occasions.

Kelly lauded the striker’s performance.

He added: ‘He was bright, vibrant and showed what a good player he is.

‘Conor caused their two centre-halves – all sorts of problems. (He probably lacked) that bit of sharpness in front of goal but, bar that, he had everything.

‘He’s got to battle and prove his worth and that’s what he did.’