Mikey Harris lavished praise on ‘outstanding’ Pompey Academy as they booked their place in the second round of the FA Youth Cup by thrashing Eastleigh 5-0 at Fratton Park last night.
It was an achievement made all the more impressive by the fact the hosts played the majority of an entertaining tie with only 10 men, after Ousman Saidy’s 35th-minute red card for a reckless tackle.
Harris insisted he had no issues with that decision, which arrived with the Blues 2-0 ahead.
And he paid tribute to his team’s impressive response to adversity, as well as their clinical edge in front of goal with Sam Woodward and Jez Bedford at the double and Tommy Scutt also on target from the penalty spot.
Harris said: ‘I thought it was a fantastic game of football with a bit of everything – five goals, a penalty and a sending off.
‘But there are no complaints at all with the red card.
‘It was a bad touch from Obi (Saidy) and he has chased his mistake and lunged in two-footed.
‘Fortunately, he didn’t catch the lad but the intent was there.
‘He will be suspended now but he will learn from it.
‘We had to dig deep after that and play for an hour with 10 men – and the boys were outstanding.
‘They worked really hard and stuck to the game plan we gave them at half-time, which is massive credit to them.
‘They were clinical with their finishing and Nick Hall made some good saves at the other end to keep a clean sheet.
‘All in all, I felt it was a really positive team performance.’
Harris’ under-18s looked to be making light work of the Spitfires, racing into a 2-0 lead in the opening half-hour through Woodward’s opener and Scutt’s penalty.
But defender Saidy’s red for a reckless challenge 10 minutes before the break threatened to change the dynamic of the game.
It failed to prove costly, though, as the hosts – who were indebted to a fine save from Hall to preserve their two-goal lead – regrouped superbly with Woodward putting the game beyond the gutsy visitors with his second of the night at the start of the second half.
Skipper Theo Widdrington came close to a fourth when his header came back off the upright, before Hall performed more heroics to protect his clean sheet.
Blues attacker Bedford then put the gloss on an impressive win, firing home twice late on in front of an entertained crowd of 758.
And Harris is now hoping his side can return to Fratton Park in the next round, with the draw taking place next Friday.
He added: ‘We’d love another home tie in the second round – Fratton Park is one of the best places to play in the country.
‘It’s a great experience for the boys, the surface is incredible and our fans are the best in the land.’
Pompey Academy: Hall; Chandler (Brooks 72), Wakley, Saidy, McDowell; Widdrington, Read (Smith 65), Scutt; Bedford, Woodward (Mayes 72); Bradbury