Kelly praises application of Portsmouth Reserves following Southend defeat 

Leon Maloney should have been awarded a second penalty for Pompey Reserves against Southend. Picture: Colin Farmery
Leon Maloney should have been awarded a second penalty for Pompey Reserves against Southend. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Mark Kelly heaped praise on his young Pompey Reserves side despite falling to a defeat against Southend in the Central League Cup on Tuesday. 

The Blues’ team was made up entirely of academy players due to the first team’s clash at Coventry on the same day. 

The hosts slipped to a 5-2 loss at the club’s Roko training base but faced a much more experienced Shrimpers outfit.

Pompey matched their opponents during periods of the clash but were punished for defensive lapses in concentration.

Kelly’s troops also missed a number of decent goalscoring opportunities during key times.

Nevertheless, Pompey’s youth chief was delighted with the application his fledgling talents displayed in the defeat.

He said: ‘I was pleased with the boys because they applied themselves well against a full under-23s side.

‘When we did play we caused them problems.

‘After the start of the second half, we had three or four good chances.

‘Goals change everything and if you can score at the optimum time then you're always slightly on the front foot.

‘But if you don’t then there’s always a chance they can go and nick something and that’s the education part of it. 

‘There was just a bit of naivety in areas and not getting up and squeezing quick enough.

‘Little things around the pitch make a big difference.

‘Pace and power does take over – like Southend’s last goal.

‘Their right-back is probably three or four years older than the boys. He drove through and there was no chance of stopping him. 

‘You’ve got to be cleverer on the ball and a bit more switched otherwise you will get punished.’

The game could have been different if Pompey were awarded a second penalty.

On 32 minutes, Leon Maloney was brought down inside the area and sent his spot-kick home to equalise. 

A minute later the forward appeared to be fouled by Southend defender Miles Nelson but the referee waved play on.

Kelly felt Maloney should have had the opportunity to put the Blues 2-1 up from 12 yards.

‘Leon is well past the lad, he’s gone and the only way the defender is going to stop him is by clipping him,’ added the academy boss.

‘There was only one way Leon was going but you take those things and it’s part of the game.’  

Pompey Academy play Swindon on Saturday.

The clash will mark the end of a hectic period for the youngsters, with many being involved in two matches a week for the past month. 

The Blues’ youth chief admits it’s been a challenge for his players.

But he believes it’s the sort of exposure they need to aid their progression.

Kelly said: ‘I’m looking forward to Saturday and to getting them off their feet.

‘It's been a very hard five weeks for them but they’ve applied themselves brilliantly.

'I’m never too worried about results – I’ve been saying that for five years.

‘It’s about individuals getting challenges across the board and people getting game-time.

‘It’s all about exposure and you only learn when you’re put in those situations.

‘We’re never going to shy away from it as staff.’