Maloney salvages Pompey Academy a draw

Leon Maloney scored the equaliser for Pompey. Picture: Colin Farmery
Leon Maloney scored the equaliser for Pompey. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Leon Maloney’s late strike rescued Pompey Academy a draw against Stevenage in Merit League One.

The Isle of Wight talent’s 82nd-minute goal salvaged Mark Kelly’s troops a 1-1 draw at their Roko training base.

Few chances were created in the first half, although the young Blues had the better of them.

In the 23rd minute, Bradley Lethbridge’s cross from the left was deflected, with the goalkeeper forced to make a diving save to his right.

Five minutes later Josh Flint delivered a cross from the left that found Dan Smith but the second-year scholar’s right-footed shot missed the target.

Pompey had decent claims for a penalty on 33 minutes when Lethbridge appeared to be brought down in the box but the referee signalled no foul. Matt Mayes reacted first to the loose ball but his shot failed to trouble the keeper.

Blues shot-stopper Josh Tombs was called into action eight minutes from the break when he made a smart save down to his left.

In the second half, Mayes came agonisingly close to opening the scoring.

Pompey hit Stevenage on the break, which culminated in the Fratton-born striker hitting the bar.

Smith and Oscar Johnson both put efforts over the bar before the visitors broke the deadlock on 71 minutes.

The ball was pulled back inside the Blues’ box and a Stevenage forward tucked home past Tombs.

But the hosts reacted in the best possible way.

Mayes dragged a shot wide one minute later before Maloney levelled.

Johnson’s cross found its way to Flint at the back post and he did brilliantly to create space and tee-up Maloney, who slotted his shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

And Kelly’s side almost grabbed a winner with four minutes remaining when Freddie Read’s cross picked out Joe Dandy but he failed to make contact with his header.

– WILL ROONEY