Mark Kelly believes Pompey Academy have been dealt a harsh but necessary lesson after their ‘worst performance’ in recent times arrived in Saturday’s dismal 6-1 loss at Oxford United.
The Blues were an uncharacteristic second best throughout a one-sided Youth Alliance League south west division encounter.
The second-year scholars in the group will have a chance to make amends tonight as they form part of Pompey’s reserve team in action at Norwich City in the Premier League Cup (7pm).
But with no Academy fixture this weekend, Kelly is in two minds as to whether a break from youth-team action is to be welcomed or not.
He said: ‘It is and it isn’t nice to be having a break.
‘Last weekend was the worst performance I have seen them put in for a long, long time.
‘They were on the back foot from the beginning and have learned a lot of lessons from it.
‘But sometimes you just want to get back out there straight away, get on with it and put things right.
‘The boys have got a bit of a break in between Academy games but the nice thing about it is tonight’s Norwich game will likely see us bed in quite a few of our second-year scholars.
‘And that is a very good challenge and environemnt to put the things right that didn’t happen on Saturday. In football, there are always games to be played but it has probably fallen quite well within the process that we do have a break this weekend.
‘With the game tonight and then the travelling back on Friday morning, it’s quite a lot so actually has worked out pretty well really.’
Kelly has revealed Pompey’s youngsters were on the receiving end of some rare stern words in the wake of their U’s humiliation.
But the Academy chief has praised their response to the setback.
And he is now looking for them to learn from their disappointment.
‘The reaction at the time was a big one – they got a telling off,’ said Kelly.
‘It is very rare we get to that stage with them because generally they are a good group.
‘We had a big meeting on Monday morning and talked about going through the process – the mental side of the game.
‘The boys spoke very openly and honestly about how they felt.
‘They felt horrible, which from my perspective was great actually because they need to feel disappointment.
‘A lifetime in football will probably give you more downs than ups – and they need to learn to handle those types of situations and come back stronger the next time.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN