Pompey Academy took another giant step towards a top-three finish and a potential Alliance Youth League title with a 1-0 win against Northampton Town this morning.
Conor Chaplin’s first-half solitary strike was enough to give them the points against The Cobblers at Bognor’s Nyewood Lane.
Coach Paul Hardyman included under-16 regulars Chaplin, Chad Field and Brandon Haunstrup in his starting line-up for the game, with both Nick Awford and Jack Maloney away on first-team duty and George Branford forced out through injury.
And it didn’t take the young Blues long to take the lead.
After Bradley Tarbuck had gone close with a shot that flew wide, Chaplin outpaced his marker to reach Ben Close’s immaculate through ball to beat visiting keeper Ben Heath as he rushed out to narrow the angle.
The goal on 10 minutes spurred Pompey on to greater things and South Korean Jae Heon Kim sent Chaplin free again – only this time Heath produced a quality save at his near post.
With Pompey virtually camped in the Northampton half, Tarbuck delivered a cross that just needed a touch to double the advantage.
However, the ball was too far in front of striker Lewis Horsburgh to reach.
Just before the interval, Northampton came to life and a neat move looked to have let front man Kieran Fitzgerald in for an equaliser, only for Jack Whatmough to deny him with a challenge deep in the penalty area.
As the heavy rain greeted the sides for the second half, Kim did well to sidestep his marker and set up Tarbuck.
But he was unlucky to see his shot take a deflection and race wide of the target.
Suddenly, though, it was Pompey’s turn to defend in number as Northampton, sensing a way back into the match, pressed forward.
Dan Clifton powered a shot just over the bar, before keeper Luke Colquhoun charged out to punch the ball clear with Fitzgerald preparing to head home an equaliser.
Flurry of activity over and Pompey resumed their domination, with Whatmough going close to a second.
With the match effectively won and Northampton having nothing left in their locker, Pompey were able to rest their nerves.
They now look ahead to their remaining fixture of the season – against Luton next weekend –where, subject to results elsewhere, victory could still earn them the title.
Pompey Academy: Colquhoun, Medway, Haunstrup, Field, Whatmough, Triggs, Chaplin, Close, Horsburgh, Kim, Tarbuck. Substitutes: Rwakaramble, Granger, Gill.
Northampton Town Academy: Heath, Parker, Boachie, Warburton, Jackson, Roberts, Cooke, Clifton, Fitzgerald, Toney, Powell. Substitutes: Agbenu, Carroll.