Newcastle end Pompey's FA Youth Cup hopes
Plucky Pompey's FA Youth Cup run came to a close at the hands of Newcastle.
The Magpies ran out 4-1 winners in front of a crowd of 832 at Fratton Park tonight.
But the scoreline didn’t tell the tale of a game in which Mikey Harris’ side matched their Category One Premier League opponents for long periods.
Tommy Scutt cancelled out Owen Gallacher’s opener in the first half with a clinical finish.
But it Newcastle’s quality which eventually told, with Lewis McNall, Callum Smith and a Theo Widdrington own goal doing the damage.
First-year keeper Jack Collins didn’t deserve to be beaten four times as he made some fine stops.
He made an important early intervention as he tipped Smith’s 20-yarder around the post.
It was a competent start from Collins, but he wasn’t made to work by Craig Spooner who curled his effort over the top after nine minutes.
And Mace Goodridge’s 25-yarder was wide of the mark six minutes later as the visitors had the better of the opening.
Smith was looking a danger and his jinking run ended with him fizzing a shot just wide as he hit the ball across the face of goal.
Collins was then required to make a superb point-blank stop to deny Kieren Aplin after 19 minutes, brilliantly keeping out his header from a corner.
Harris’ side first threatened moments later when Jez Bedford won a free-kick 25 yards out, but Widdrington curled his effort over the top.
It was evident Collins was going to be in for a busy evening, but he was proving up to the task as he kept out a 20-yard hit from Matty Longstaff at the second attempt.
Pompey had the best chance of the match, however, after 27 minutes, but Harvey Bradbury couldn’t direct his header on target when well placed from Sam Woodward’s lofted cross.
Newcastle’s pressure finally told after 30 minutes when they made the breakthrough.
It was Gallacher who did the damage as the Blues defence stood off the midfielder and allowed him to fire home from just inside the box.
Pompey’s response was impressive as Widdrington forced Toon keeper Nathan Harker into a fine full-length stop from 30 yards.
Harris’ side were level after 34 minutes, though, with a lovely bit of finishing from Scutt.
Woodward again provided the ammunition for the midfielder to deftly fire home with a first-time effort.
That saw the hosts gain in confidence, with Widdrington firing over from well outside the box and Bradbury heading just wide.
But it was the visitors who restored their lead three minutes before the break, when McNall impressively headed home after danger-man Smith reached the byline.
It was Smith who then forced Collins into another stop in the last action of the half.
Smith was again causing problems moments after the restart as Eddie Wakley was caught on the ball, but the winger’s run ended with him firing over.
A lovely ball from Kyle McDowell looked to have freed Bradbury moments later, but he was marginally offside.
Gallacher should have done better with his free header after 53 minutes but planted his effort wide from Smith’s cross.
But Newcastle had the killer third two minutes later as that man Smith crossed and the unfortunate Widdrington turned the ball past Collins as he attempted to clear.
Harker was then almost caught dallying as he was pressurised by Bradbury but the visitors eventually cleared their lines.
Man-of-the-match Smith then got on the scoresheet with 20 minutes left as he nipped the ball off Wakley and dispatched a confident finish past Collins.
Pompey didn’t let up after that disappointment, however, competing with their rivals until the death and Wakley heading over from a corner later on.
Then Scutt hit the post in stoppage-time after a Widdrington brightly took a quick free-kick.
That rallying underlined there was plenty of positives Harris’ troops could take away from their big night despite the loss.
Pompey: Collins, McDowell***, Wakley, Bedford, Smith**, Scutt, Woodward*, Mayes, Widdrington (booked), Read, Bradbury. Subs: Saidy* (57min), Casey** (70min) Chandler*** (72min). Not used: Kitcher, Brooks
Newcastle: Harker, Spooner, Aplin, Longstaff, Bailey, Cass, Gallacher**, Goodridge (booked), McNall*, Sangare, Smith*** Subs: Allan* (79min), Lowther** (80min), Wilson (84min) Not used: Huuhthanen, Aziakonou.