Mark Kelly praises Pompey Academy’s ruthless streak

Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly Picture: Joe Pepler
Nathan Thompson in action against Chelsea under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Mark Kelly has praised Pompey Academy’s Merit League goal threat after seeing the Blues score nine times in the competition’s first two matches.

Mikey Harris’ under-18s side have simply carried on where they left off in the Youth Alliance League south west division last month.

The Blues claimed 3-0 and 3-1 wins to end their campaign in a top-five spot – enough to book a Merit League place alongside the south west division’s top six.

A memorable opening-day 5-5 draw at AFC Wimbledon was followed up by last weekend’s 4-3 win at Bournemouth.

And youth-team boss Kelly paid tribute to the youngsters’ ruthless streak as they prepare to host Leyton Orient on Saturday (11am).

Kelly said: ‘It’s been pleasing because the goals have been flowing.

‘We went through a patch when we were in the Youth Alliance League when we were creating a lot of chances but not finishing them off.

‘You work on it in training every day but when it comes to game time that is when it is most important to do it.

‘If you are on the pitch to be a striker, a goal maker or a creator then you are there to make things happen.

‘So, of course it is pleasing when you see them scoring.

‘But I have seen them play some excellent football this season and they might have only scored one in the game.

‘Now they have that understanding that in the final third, things are important.

‘There is that little bit of pressure on it – you have got to accept it, absorb it and work hard to put the ball in the back of the net.

‘And they are working hard at doing it.’

One big positive in recent times has been the integration of the Blues’ first-year scholars with Harvey Bradbury particularly impressive in front of goal.

Defender Ousman Saidy, nicknamed Obi, however, showed last weekend that Pompey have goals all throughout the side.

Kelly said: ‘Harvey Bradbury is just coming in – he is one of our first-year scholars and they are getting a bit more time on the pitch.

‘And big Obi scored his first goal last weekend for the youth team – a big header at the back post.

‘The goals are coming from different little angles as well, which is important.’

Kelly is now expecting another stern test against the O’s.

‘Leagues generally don’t tell lies so we will play all of the best teams,’ added Kelly.

‘And Orient will give us something different.

‘Knowing what I know about them and the way they play, they will be big strong and physical on Saturday.

‘They will certainly give us something else to deal with.’