Ian Foster praised Pompey’s gutsy reserves following a bruising victory over Southend.
The Blues progressed in the Premier League Cup at Westleigh Park last night with a 2-1 win.
Conor Chaplin struck in each half to seal the qualifying round triumph over their League One opposition.
It was often a combative affair, with Adam Buxton forced off in the second-half after being on the receiving end of several bad challenges.
First-team coach Foster, though, was pleased with his team’s showing in the hard-fought fixture.
He said: ‘I don’t mind that physicality.
‘Everyone labels junior games as false and they don’t reflect League One or League Two.
‘I have taken charge of under-21 games before and been to watch loads and they are a bit “you have it, we have it.”
‘But I thought last night was like a League Two game.
‘It was competitive, both teams were committed, there were one or two naughty challenges but that’s fine, no problem with that, the referee is there to control the game.
‘I felt there were a couple of bookings of our players which were quite surprising but other than that the players competed really, really well.
‘It was a really good game. I felt we controlled it for long periods in the first-half, particularly through Ben Close playing in front of the back four, it was a different formation to deal with which is always interesting.
‘It’s a group of players who never would have played together before, three of the back four aged 18 and it’s great learning experience for them.
‘Another pleasing feature is that we got 90 minutes into Gareth Evans, Conor Chaplin, Ben Tollitt, Amine Linganzi and Adam May.’