Discipline was the key for Pompey’s youngsters as they claimed their first clean sheet of the season.
A dominant display from the young Blues saw them run out 3-0 winners against Oxford United on Saturday.
Goals from Calvin Davies, Liam Sayers and Harvey Bradbury ensured Mikey Harris’ side came away with the three points and continued their unbeaten start to the Youth Alliance League south west division campaign.
Academy coach Harris said his side’s performance was more important than the result – and keeping a clean sheet was his main target.
‘Before the game I challenged the lads to keep a clean sheet and they rose to the task,’ he said.
‘In every game so far this season we have conceded sloppy goals and that is something we are now looking to stamp out.
‘Our initial set-up is strong but it is always in that second phase of play where we seem to slip up. We just need to focus more.
‘The lads have been working hard for one another and the whole team can be proud of a clean sheet.’
Harris said he wants his team to defend from the front and pressure their opponents at every opportunity.
The Academy coach wants this focus to continue for the rest of the season, as it will stand the youngsters in good stead for their progression in the game.
‘It is vital for any footballer never to switch off,’ added Harris.
‘If we can get this level of concentration instilled in the lads now it will help them has they progress in the game.
‘We are always trying to improve upon our weaknesses week in, week out – it is all part of the developmental process.’
The more concentrated approach clearly paid off for the Blues, as goalkeeper Alex Bass was hardly called into action against Oxford.
And that was a fact not lost on Harris.
He said: ‘If your team are holding a solid shape it is going to make your keeper’s job a lot easier.
‘I’m really happy for Alex to get this first clean sheet of the season, as he has been one of our most consistent players so far this year.
‘He has really grown in confidence recently and has really begun to command his penalty area, coming to claim crosses and confidently punching balls clear.
‘We want him to be an imposing figure in goal and the more clean sheets he gets the more confident he will become.’
The Blues are in league action this Saturday, when they host Plymouth Argyle.