Academy youngsters held to goalless draw by Gulls

Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain   Picture: Neil Marshall
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain Picture: Neil Marshall
Brandon Haunstrup. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey to secure youngster’s future

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A youthful Pompey Academy side extended their unbeaten run to six Youth Alliance League south-west division matches with a hard-fought goalless draw against Torquay United this afternoon.

With one eye on Monday night’s trip to Plymouth Argyle in the FA Youth Cup, coach Mikey Harris rang the changes – handing starts to eight under-16s players at Furze Lane.

It was the much-changed Blues who had the first clear sight of goal after 15 minutes, when Liam Sayers exchanged passes with Kyle McDowell but the pacy striker saw his goalbound shot well blocked by Gulls skipper Oneil Odokin.

Moments later, though, it was the visitors who should have led on the counter, when Connah Hughes somehow failed to make contact from Harry Muzurious’ inviting cross when it appeared easier to score than miss.

The game, perhaps expectably, lacked the intensity of recent Blues displays but it was the home side who had the better of the remainder of a largely uneventful first half.

Sayers created an opening for himself with a superb chest control, only to snatch at the opportunity – firing over from the edge of the box.

Harris’ side then had a glorious chance to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.

Fahad Rwakarambe freed Harvey Bradbury – son of former Blues striker and Hawks boss Lee – but the leggy forward was expertly denied by the onrushing Dan Lavercumbe.

The visitors were first to threaten in the second period, when skipper Odokin rose highest from a corner but he was unable to keep his header on target.

Pompey, who had brought on Kaleem Haitham for Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain at the break, registered their first sight on goal when Tommy Scutt and Bradbury combined for Scutt to shoot straight at Lavercumbe.

McDowell then freed Sayers as the hosts went in search of a match-winning goal but the impressive Lavercumbe was again on hand to deny the striker.

Charlie Duke tested Blues stopper Nick Hall from long range, before Bradbury missed his kick with the goal beckoning at the other end.

In the end, though, it was the in-form hosts who had to survive a moment of late drama to extend their impressive recent unbeaten run.

Substitute Chad Field underhit his back pass to let in Torquay striker Jonathan Smith but his goalbound shot was then sensationally cleared by the recovering defender via the inside of his own post.

POMPEY ACADEMY: Hall, Grange, McDowell, Scutt, Saidy (Field 78), Wakely, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Haitham, 46), Rwakarambwe (Granger 87), Sayers, Bradbury, Bedford