Portsmouth Academy book FA Youth Cup tie with Liverpool by defeating Cray 

Pompey Academy celebrate Leon Maloney's penalty in their win at Cray Wanderers. Picture: Colin Farmery
Pompey Academy celebrate Leon Maloney's penalty in their win at Cray Wanderers. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Pompey Academy booked themselves an exciting FA Youth Cup third-round clash with Liverpool after a comprehensive victory over Cray Wanderers.

The young Blues delivered a 4-0 win against the non-league side at Bromley’s Hayes Lane.

Bradley Lethbridge, Leon Maloney, James Whiting and Oscar Johnston were on target for Mark Kelly’s side. 

They visitors did have to survive a late onslaught from Wanderers to keep a clean sheet, however. 

It took Pompey just 11 minutes to open the scoring – albeit in fortuitous fashion.

Maloney’s deflected shot was spilled by home keeper Tiwa Fujamada, leaving Lethbridge to tap home from close range.

The striker could have had a second four minutes later when Maloney whipped a cross from the right into the box, but he couldn’t properly connect with his header.

The Gosport ace was again presented with an aerial opportunity double the Blues’ lead on 27 minutes but glanced Harry Kavanagh’s cross wide.

But Kelly’s troops grabbed their second two minutes later.

Stan Bridgman had an angled shot hooked off the line by Adam Bambofree but Maloney picked up the loose ball and was brought down inside the box by Joe Barber.

The Isle of Wight forward stepped up to take the spot-kick and buried it into the keeper’s bottom right-hand corner.

To their credit, Cray responded well and and almost reduced the arrears in the 32nd minute when Bambofree headed a corner just over.

Six minutes before the break, Lethbridge almost extended the visitors’ lead after he broke on the counter attack but his angled right-foot shot went just wide of the far post.

In the 42nd minute Bridgman jinked his way into the box before he was blocked by a swarm of yellow shirt, before Lethbridge crashed a 20-yard first-time shot off target.

The Blues continued to dominate after half-time, with Brigman failing to hit the target from the edge of the box when he was picked out by Lethbridge on 48 minutes.

Cray had a rare sight on goal in the 51st minute but Kyrique Garvey-Williams’s left-foot effort failed to trouble Leon Pitman in the visiting net.

Not for the first time in the game Lethbridge was guilty of missing a gilt-edged opportunity, heading Kavangh’s cross over the bar from six yards on 52 minutes.

Pompey did put the game to bed three minutes later, though, through a superb Whiting goal.

After the ball was cleared, the centre-midfielder’s snap-shot  from the edge of the box found the far corner. 

However, Wanderers rallied late as they looked for a way back. In the 70th minute Cameron Grant was left unmarked from a corner but  his header missed the target.

A minute later Robbie Payne went round Pitman for the hosts but his shot was cleared off the line. 

Wanderers did have the ball in the back of the net in the 73rd minute when Frankie Morgan neatly finished but was flagged offside. 

The hosts continued to take the upper hand and came agonisingly close to starting a comeback.

On 77 minutes Pitman failed to claim a corner and Payne had a shot deflected wide.

From the resulting set-piece, Pitman smartly kept out Dersh Carty’s shot from point-blank range. A scramble ensued, with Daid Showemimo rattling crossbar. 

Cray failed to make a breakthrough, though, and Johnston put the gloss on the Blues’ victory with close-range finish three minutes from time.

The win ensured Pompey booked their place in the third round for the fourth successive season.

And they’ll be relishing the chance to face Premier League side Liverpool's Category One academy side.