Pompey reserves continue remarkable run

Nicke Kabamba netted the opener for Pompey reserves. Picture: Colin Farmery
Nicke Kabamba netted the opener for Pompey reserves. Picture: Colin Farmery
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THE Hampton & Richmond double act conjured up two stunning goals to fire Pompey’s reserves into the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup.

A crowd of 598 turned out at Westleigh Park tonight to cheer on Mikey Harris’ side against Colchester United’s under-23s.

And those present were not disappointed as the Blues maintained their remarkable run with a 2-0 triumph secured by two marvellous strikes.

Liam O’Brien pulled off a first-half penalty save from Tariq Issa to ensure the match remained goalless at the break.

Then it was left to close pals Nicke Kabamba and Jamal Lowe to steer Pompey to a well-deserved victory.

Kabamba broke the deadlock on 51 minutes when he controlled the ball on his chest before rifling in a ferocious angled finish.

Victory was assured in the 85th minute when Lowe, on as a 64th minute substitute, dribbled his way down the left before unleashing a right-foot shot from the angle.

They were two moments of genuine quality from the January arrivals from non-league football.

Now Pompey must wait to learn their opposition in the semi-finals of the prestigious under-23 competition.

Despite Pompey’s current first-team striker shortage, Conor Chaplin and Kabamba were both named in the starting line-up against Colchester.

With Noel Hunt and Eoin Doyle presently sidelined, the Blues can ill-afford the duo joining the ranks of the injured during the promotion push.

Still, they made up a strong Pompey side which had another forward, Curtis Main, on the bench after more than five months out injured.

Tom Davies and Jack Whatmough formed the central-defensive partnership, with Adam May and Ben Close serving as the holding midfield pair.

In terms of the current Academy set-up, Jez Bedford occupied the left-hand side of the attacking three, with Harvey Bradbury and Theo Widdrington suspended.

Meanwhile, Jamal Lowe, who started Pompey’s weekend victory at Hartlepool, was on the five-man bench.

The Blues started brightly with Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, featuring on the right, lifting a shot into arms of keeper.

Then Chaplin produced a vicious rising left-foot shot from the edge of the area which was superbly palmed away by keeper Dillon Barnes.

The lively Chaplin’s next left-foot attempt was straight at the Colchester player, but represented an encouraging opening from the hosts.

At the other end, Liam O’Brien was called into action on 16 minutes when Eoin McKeown’s angled right-foot drive was brilliantly kept out by the keeper’s fingertips.

In the 26th minute, Chaplin’s cross from the left was cushioned on his chest by Kabamba, who then managed to steer a shot with his right-foot as he tumbled, which was collected by the keeper.

Referee David Rock was proving unpopular with the home fans and there were chants of ‘cheat, cheat’ when he somehow awarded a foul against Kabamba.

The striker appeared to be tugged back by Dexter Peter as he attempted to race onto a ball over the top, yet the match official inexplicably instead awarded a foul to the visitors.

There was more controversy in the 37th minute when Colchester were awarded a penalty after Drew Talbot cleared the ball away from Issa.

The players were stunned at the decision, with the visitors not having even appealed, yet O’Brien had the final say, diving to his left to superbly keep out Issa’s spot-kick.

It was goalless at the break, but on 51 minutes the Blues grabbed the lead with a stunning goal.

Oxlade-Chamberlain flicked the ball on down the right channel and Kabamba controlled the ball on his chest before rifling home a fierce angled right-foot finish.

The crowd were once more incensed on 70 minutes when Peter tugged back Chaplin as he attempted to latch onto O’Brien’s goal kick, but again no foul was given.

On 74 minutes, Main was introduced in place of Chaplin, earning applause as he entered the pitch from those present.

Lowe completed the scoreline in the 85th minute after a magnificent run down the left, before cutting along the byline and firing a right-foot shot high into the far corner from a near-impossible angle.

Pompey: O’Brien, Talbot, T.Davies, Whatmough, Haunstrup, May, Close, Oxlade-Chamberlain (64 mins C Davies), Chaplin (74 mins Main), Bedford (64 mins Lowe), Kabamba. Subs Not Used: Bass, Smith

Colchester: Barnes, Vincent-Young (46 mins Brown), Kinsella, Wright, Peter, Kensdale, Howard, McKeown, Issa, Dunne (81 mins Jones), Edge. Subs Not Used: Wilson, Keys

Attendance: 598