Ryan Taylor’s goal-scoring comeback may have stolen the attention, yet Cheltenham also represented a key milestone for Bradley Tarbuck.
And Alan McLoughlin was delighted with the Emsworth youngster’s contribution.
Tarbuck replaced two-goal Taylor at half-time in Tuesday’s reserve fixture.
In the process it was a first appearance since July 22 against Thurrock.
Damaged ankle ligaments sustained in that pre-season friendly had sidelined the first-year professional for two months.
Yet he returned to action against Cheltenham and provided the cross from the right for Conor Chaplin’s goal during the 3-1 victory.
Another step forwards for the promising forward.
McLoughlin said: ‘It was great to see Bradley come back, it has been a long, long time since that game at Thurrock.
‘He did fantastically when he came on, was nice and bright and involved with the third goal, which was great play, probably about 12 or 13 passes before we got into a position to score.
‘Bradley made some little mistakes – I will forgive him and say he was a little bit rusty – but overall he made a great contribution.
‘I am pleased he is back but it is only one tiny step, he is a long way off being ready to be in contention for the first team.’
Encouragingly, Pompey featured four Academy players in their side at the Seasons training ground.
Brandon Haunstrup, Calvin Davis, Chad Field and Chaplin all started, while Snorre Nilsen and Fahad Rwakarambwe came off the bench.
McLoughlin added: ‘Yes we like to win games but, more importantly, Tuesday was some great experience for some young players.
‘Calvin Davis is only 16, a first-year scholar and was fantastic, he looked so comfortable, while Snorre Nilsen came on and played centre midfield
‘I can’t speak highly enough of the boys, not one player didn’t put a shift in.
‘I asked them to take a couple of specific corners against Cheltenham and even at first-team level one or two have ducked out the responsibility of taking that particular corner I tried to work on.
‘But I insisted and it is easier when you have got young players, they will do it because they know there’s no comeback.
‘That sort of attitude to try to experiment has got to be taken into the first-team as well.’