Mikey Harris praised Pompey Academy’s psychological maturity after they bounced back from adversity to win 1-0 at Gillingham on Saturday.
The Blues suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat against Leyton Orient at the end of last month – their first loss of the Merit League One campaign.
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain erased the memory of that reversal, though, netting the game’s only goal in the first half against the Gills.
Indeed, the late dismissal of striker Harvey Bradbury was the only blemish on an otherwise impressive afternoon for the visitors.
For Harris, it was pleasing to see the way his side responded to a setback, with particular emphasis on the youngsters’ mental strength.
‘We set the boys a psychological challenge last week,’ said Harris.
‘The whole week revolved around the psych corner and we talked about the five C’s – commitment, confidence, concentration, control (emotional) and communication.
‘It’s really important the boys get that aspect of their football and their development right.
‘They can be technically or physically gifted but if they can’t get their brain right, they are going to struggle.
‘There was a lot of emphasis last week on that, so it was nice to see the boys transfer that onto the pitch.’
Holding midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain notched his third goal of the season in the victory – to the delight of coach Harris.
Top scorer Bradbury, paid the price for a rush of blood to the head after the full-time whistle, however, retaliating to provocation.
Harris has backed the striker to learn from his mistake.
He said: ‘Christian has chipped in this season with the odd goal.
‘It is more challenging for the boys who play in holding midfield to score goals because that is not their role.
‘Their role is to provide the forward players with the ammunition to do that.
‘Of course it is nice when they do pop up with a goal as we saw in the first team with Michael Doyle on Tuesday night!
‘Christian scored on the counter attack, though, taking the opportunity to break forward with pace.
‘I was pleased he got another goal under his belt.
‘Unfortunately for Harvey he was a little bit naive and reacted to something after the full-time whistle.
‘He has not done anything majorly wrong and we are not going to cut his legs off.
‘He has just got to learn his lesson and move on from it.’
The Blues travel to Southend on Saturday (midday) with Bradbury eligible to play, before serving a three-game ban.
– JEFF MARSHMAN