Pompey Academy deliver defensive resilience
Mikey Harris praised Pompey Academy's defensive resilience as they returned to winning ways at the weekend with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Newport County.
The Blues’ under-18s came from behind in Wales to secure a deserved Youth Alliance League south west divsion success through second-half Harvey Bradbury and Dan Smith goals.
The result wiped out the painful memory of a 6-5 defeat to Cheltenham the weekend before and also ended a three-game losing run.
Harris said: ‘We had good spells in between both boxes – I thought we were very good in possession but just lacked a little bit of patience and composure in the final third.
‘We were snatching at things and the final pass wasn’t there in the first half.
‘We spoke about showing a bit more patience and composure at half-time – we only found ourselves a goal down because of a soft penalty.
‘Within the first five minutes of the second half the boys showed that patience and composure in the final third and we scored two goals.
‘The only disappointing thing for me is we didn’t go on and produce more – it was almost like we became too excited when we had scored the goals.
‘We didn’t take our chances so it became a challenge for the boys to hold onto their one-goal lead.
‘Full credit to Newport, they put us under immense pressure and Nick Hall had to make a brilliant save to make sure we got all three points.
‘We defended resolutely, putting bodies on the line with Jack Chandler typifying that with a brave diving header at the far post that saw him take a clattering and have to come off.
‘But after letting in six up at Cheltenham, we were more ruthless defensively – individually and collectively and deservedly got the win.’
Pompey Academy now face two more away games in quick succession, with Saturday’s visit to Plymouth (midday) followed by Tuesday’s trip to league-leaders Exeter (2.30pm).
With the reserve team in Premier League Cup action against Norwich on Monday at Westleigh Park (7pm) also, Harris is having to consider his selection options.
He added: ‘I will have a chat with the manager some time later this week, which may or may not affect Academy selection for both Plymouth and Exeter – with the reserve team in mind.
‘That’s just something that will be passed down by the first team.
‘We will plan accordingly for Saturday, Monday and then Tuesday.
‘The boys probably won’t play in all three games but there will be some who are involved in the thinking for all three games.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN