Kelly joy at  Pompey '˜babies' pre-season

A trio of pre-season fixtures have provided a fascinating glimpse of the Blues' potential future.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 5:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 5:54 pm
Pompey first-year scholar Haji Mnoga featuring alongside Gareth Evans

And Mark Kelly has been delighted with how his '˜babies' have fared while on Pompey XI duty.

Tuesday night marked the third and final summer outing for a side consisting of first-team players, first-year professionals and current Academy performers.

The youthful team won 5-1 at the Rocks, with Adam May netting a hat-trick and Dan Smith and Leon Maloney joining him on the scoresheet.

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Kelly's Pompey XI previously triumphed 3-0 at Moneyfields, albeit not containing a single first-team player, while ran out 3-0 winners at Gosport.

Such occasions have provided eye-catching outings for the likes of defender Haji Mnoga, Bradley Lethbridge, Waterlooville's Oscar Johnston and Josh Flint.

And they have revelled playing alongside the senior presences of Luke McGee, Christian Burgess, Adam May, Gareth Evans and Louis Dennis.

Kelly said: '˜You've seen a lot of the younger players, the babies if you like, my first years coming on against Bognor, and they are settling in really well.

'˜The whole thing is just about settling down, getting loads of minutes for people under their belts and I'm pleased with all of them. They are in, working hard, getting their heads down and their approach has been excellent, we keep working on.

'˜It's great playing with the senior players, they love it, it's where they want to go, where they want to be, they look up to the lads.

'˜It's a bit like the old combination leagues we used to play, it's the way it should be.

'˜Some football clubs at this moment in time have too many gaps, too many divides between the groups. The youth team and reserve team are just like separate entities.

'˜I am pleased we managed to keep it all in here, the kids can mix, they can develop. We have been doing it with the under-23s and it works.'

Following their Nyewood Lane outing, Smith and Lethbridge have joined Bognor on loan.

And it was Smith who got the goal of the game when he lashed home the fifth of the 5-1 win.

Kelly added: '˜It was a great finish, but we've told Dan he needs to tidy up a little bit.

'˜Be patient, you've got 90 minutes to score a goal, he was rushing and snatching at things a little bit in the first half.

'˜He does work so hard, the kid. He's so honest he will get through his work. He just needs to calm himself down .'