Harvey Bradbury’s double was not enough to hand Pompey Academy a winning start to their Youth Alliance League south west division season as they were held to a 2-2 opening-day draw by Newport County this afternoon.
In an entertaining clash at Furze Lane, hosts Pompey twice led their Welsh counterparts only to allow the visitors to peg them back both times from set-pieces.
Indeed, the fact both of the Exiles goals were scored by defender Dion Molyneux tells its own story as the Blues paid a heavy price for failing to clear their lines.
Academy boss Mark Kelly felt the game represented a ‘massive learning curve’ for his side.
He said: ‘There were plenty of positives and plenty of negatives.
‘In the first half we had control and were disppointing them (Newport) by drawing them out and finding areas.
‘In the second half the message was to keep finding those little pockets of space.
‘Newport then tried to press, which was what they had to do.
‘We started to panic and went longer when all it needed was a little pass to find the little breaks and start to move.
‘It’s a massive learning curve.
‘Teams will always try something different against you but then you have to be even braver to get on the ball and make things happen yourself.
‘When opponents press they are taking risks and that means there is more space for us in key areas which is why we need to keep the ball and exploit that.
‘Instead we went long which suited them down to the ground.’
Pompey led 10 minutes before half-time when the impressive Theo Widdrington’s shot was toe-poked home by Bradbury, despite appeals for offside from the outraged visitors.
Newport were level just after the hour mark, though, when Molyneux rose highest to head home from a corner.
Bradbury then showed his own aerial prowess to coolly nod home another Widdrington assist.
But it was the Exiles who ultimately had the last say as that man Molyneux prodded in from a goalmouth scramble following another corner.
Still there were chances for both sides as sub Pompey keeper Jack Collins denied Cairan Smith before Tommy Scutt came close to a winner for the Blues when his last-gasp effort crashed back off the woodwork.
POMPEY ACADEMY: Hall (Collins, 79); Chandler, Saidy, Wakley (Casey, 65), McDowell; Scutt, Brooks (Read, 75), Widdrington, Woodward (Johnson, 85); Mayes, Bradbury