Mikey Harris has called on Pompey Academy to end the year on a high but dismissed any talk of payback when Oxford visit Furze Lane on Saturday (11am).
The third-placed Blues have been in impressive form in the Youth Alliance League south west division this term and have two games in hand on leaders Exeter, who they trail by three points.
But an uncharacteristically poor display from Harris’ side at Saturday’s visitors earlier this season, saw them handed a 6-1 drubbing by the U’s – their worst result and performance of the campaign.
Pompey’s under-18s boss, though, insists ending the calendar year on a high is the only motivation within the Blues camp heading into the weekend, with a two-week break to follow.
Should they achieve that, attention can then turn to a potential title tilt when the players return to action in the new year.
‘Obviously we focus more on performance than result but whenever you are heading into a break or period of time off, you want that to occur off the back of a positive performance and a positive result,’ said Harris.
‘That goes in the game for any level of football.
‘A realistic challenge for the boys is to win the league.
‘At the start of the season we set the target of being in the Merit League because we want to be playing against the best teams from the south east division.
‘In terms of winning the league it is not a priority but if we are in a position to do it and we are able to then it is something we are going to push for.
‘For now, though, we just want to go into the break on the back of a positive performance and result.’
Harris has no new injury concerns heading into the weekend and expects to name a strong side to face the U’s, who currently occupy seventh spot in a 10-team league.
But Pompey’s Academy coach does not think September’s defeat has any bearing on the game.
He said: ‘I’m not really into payback to be honest.
‘A game of football is a game of football and what happened a few months ago is irrelevant really.
‘The key is to focus on what we can effect now – we can’t change that result.
‘I’m sure it will be in the back of a few players’ minds but the key thing to remember is this is a whole different game and opportunity to get a win heading into the Christmas break.
‘That’s something we would want, whether we were playing a side who beat us 6-1 or a side we have already beaten.
‘That doesn’t really come into the equation for us.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN