Brave Pompey youngsters bow out to Bolton

Adam Webster had levelled for Pompey at Bolton
Adam Webster had levelled for Pompey at Bolton
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Jez Bedford in Pompey training. Picture: Sarah Standing (170841)

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A spirited display from Pompey Academy was not enough as they bowed out of the FA Youth Cup following a 2-1 loss at Bolton Academy.

Andy Awford’s in-form side were more than a match for their talented hosts in this third-round tie.

And despite going behind early on, they levelled through Adam Webster.

But a second Bolton goal midway through the second half proved the difference to see the young Blues bow out.

As expected from a team who came into the tie having lost just once in 14 Academy League matches this season, the hosts got off to a good start.

Pompey’s Irish keeper Connor O’Hara was forced to hoof the ball clear as Zach Clough was lining up a finish.

But with five minutes played, O’Hara could do little to prevent Rob Holding getting on to the end of a Tom Walker free-kick to help the ball over the line and give Bolton the lead.

But that advantage lasted just five minutes as, like their hosts, Pompey netted from a set-piece free-kick, Bradley Tarbuck’s far-post cross being met by Webster who rose majestically to head home.

The goal lifted Pompey’s confidence and it was Bolton’s turn to feel the heat, with Ben Close letting fly a shot from the edge of the area that raced just past the far post.

Bolton came charging back and Pompey enjoyed a stroke of luck as they failed to deal with a long cross, only for Luke Woodland to spare them by shooting wide from close range.

Georg Iliev then wasted a chance for the hosts with the goal at his mercy.

As the second half got under way, Pompey’s Jack Whatmough came to the rescue when he closed down Clough to block the Bolton striker’s shot.

As play switched to the other end, Webster’s defence-splitting pass allowed Close to go clear and hammer in a shot that Bolton keeper Jan-Ole Sievers did well to save low down.

Jack Maloney then turned up at Pompey’s near post to clip the ball away to safety as Bolton were in the throes of celebration as Clough’s shot looked destined for the back of the net.

On 65 minutes, the Blues made a couple of substitutions, James Hartson and Harry Medway coming on for Maloney and Lewis Horsburgh, who had been roughed up earlier and had to receive treatment to a head wound.

But before the duo had settled, Bolton got their winner when Pompey’s defence failed to pick up the run of Chris Lester and his cross was met by Iliev who tucked a finish past O’Hara.

In an effort to save the match, Academy boss Awford pushed Webster up front to add his aerial strength to Pompey’s strike force.

And the ploy so nearly worked as the Wittering-born Webster ploughed his way through a tired-looking home defence, only to lift his finish just over the crossbar.

That was to be the Blues’ last chance as their participation in the competiton came to an end for another season.

BOLTON ACADEMY: Sievers, Bailey, Gibson, Holding, Maher, Woodland, Newby, Wolstenholme, Clough, Iliev, Walker. Subs: Youngs, Campbell, Hendrie, Lester, Torres.

POMPEY ACADEMY: O’Hara, Webster, Trigg, Awford, Warren, Whatmough, Tarbuck, Branford, Horsburgh, Close, Maloney. Subs: Medway, Hartson, Kim, Tarasenko.