A Portsmouth bow to savour – and Mnoga missed Orient debacle

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The Twitter wag raised a chuckle with his observation.

As Haji Mnoga became the second youngster player to pull on a senior Pompey shirt, his tender years naturally became a subject of focus at Crawley.

Pompey's Haji Mnoga made his debut at the age of 16 against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey's Haji Mnoga made his debut at the age of 16 against Crawley. Picture: Joe Pepler

At 16 years, five months and 24 days he is superseded by academy team-mate Joe Hancott by 15 days as the youngest player in the club's history.

It meant, as pointed out by user @JeremyKwee, the former Trafalgar School pupil missed out on being around as Pompey crashed out of the FA Cup to Leyton Orient in 2002 by three months.

The instinctive mirth as that stat was quickly replaced by a feeling of discomfort at the memories at that bleak winter afternoon still being fresh in the mind. So much so that, surely, it was no longer than 10 years back.

So thank you, Mnoga, for making those at Fratton Park back then feel the sands of time slipping through their fingers.

The good news is those Pompey fans who were also at Broadfield Stadium on Tuesday night, saw a first-team bow of promise from the lad who has spent his life on Portsmouth island.

Mnoga produced a competent and mature display after being handed a right-back role in Jackett's starting XI. The first-year scholar kept in simple and efficient as he settled into the game, with sensible use of the ball and an important first-half clearance.

Physically he didn't look out of place in the first team for someone of his tender years with above-average stature for his age – despite being the second youngest of the latest intake of prospects.

The night of Mnoga's young life ended with calming words from Kenny Jackett about the distance he still has to travel to make the grade.

‘It’s a long road ahead of him, but he has good talent,’ said the Pompey boss.

They were echoed by the teenager himself on social media, as he highlighted a desire to put in the hard miles and keep his feet on the ground. Mnoga's at the right academy to ensure that happens.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​