Portsmouth Academy excited for FA Youth Cup clash at Fratton Park

Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly. Picture: Colin Farmery
Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly. Picture: Colin Farmery

Pompey Academy are relishing opening their FA Youth Cup account at Fratton Park. 

Mark Kelly’s side host Bristol Rovers in the first round of the competition on Wednesday. 

It’ll be the first time many of the young Blues will feature at PO4 during their careers. 

It’s an occasion the fledgling talents will certainly be excited for.

And Kelly feels playing at Fratton Park can help bring the best out of his troops. 

Pompey’s youth boss said: ‘Down the years we’ve been drawn away a few times before we’ve played at Fratton Park.

‘So it’s nice to start the first round at Fratton Park and the lads are really looking forward to it.

‘Playing in stadiums is great. We’ve played in a lot of stadiums while being on tour in the summer and the boys have been exposed to that in the past three-to-four months.

‘There will be open spaces and the boys will look to get the ball moving, use their pace and mobility and hopefully score a few goals and keep a clean sheet.’

Pompey have already delivered a convincing win over the Bristol Rovers this season.

The Blues routed the Pirates 6-2 in the Youth Alliance southwest division last month.

However, Kelly warned his troops the visitors may change their style of football from that clash.

The boss feels Rovers could play with more caution – meaning patience may be key when trying to unlock their defence.

‘We beat them 6-2 but that brings different challenges,’ added Kelly.

‘They might not be as expansive as they were when and might want to sit in and close things off.

‘We’ll then have to be patient and a bit clever.

‘We’ll keep our discipline and try to put in a performance we want to – that’s the main thing.’

Bradley Lethbridge briefly returns from his loan spell at Bognor to feature for Pompey.

However, fellow Rocks loanee Joe Dandy is suspended after being sent off against Swindon earlier this month.

The Blues go into the tie on the back of a 4-0 victory over Newport County on Saturday. 

It was the first clean sheet Kelly’s side kept in nine matches and the boss has demanded a similar display from his rearguard.

‘We’ve let in a few stupid goals and defended like kids in a few of the games recently.

‘But we defended like young men on Saturday.

‘They need to go and defend like that again and attack the way they can because we’re capable of scoring lots of goals.’