Pompey Academy reaped their rewards for standing tall in the face of adversity.
That was boss Mark Kelly’s verdict after his side recovered from a two-goal deficit at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday to draw 2-2.
That ensured they extended their unbeaten Merit League 1 division start to four games.
A last-minute goal from substitute Harvey Bradbury – son of former Blues striker and current Hawks manager Lee – secured a share of the spoils.
The strike capped a fine comeback for Kelly’s side, who had earlier reduced the arrears through skipper Brandon Haunstrup.
It was an achievement made all the more impressive with the visitors missing several regulars after being hit by a sickness bug.
Young goalkeeper Jack Collins came in for his debut in between the sticks, while Theo Widdrington, Tommy Scutt and goal-hero Bradbury all stepped up in age category.
Kelly said: ‘The squad was very reduced at the weekend – we had a lot of sickness in the camp.
‘There were a lot of boys out unwell.
‘As a result, some of the under-16s stepped in and played – we had a young goalkeeper in Jack Collins, who did extremely well.
They (the players) showed good signs mentally to get themselves back in it and regroup after the goalsPompey Academy boss Mark Kelly
‘In the first half we controlled things and worked the ball well.
‘But we started the second half really sloppy and were guilty of stepping off the pace and doing silly things.
‘Mentally, the approach wasn’t right and we paid the price for that.’
Former Gosport Borough loanee Matt Butcher and ex-Pompey triallist Sam Matthews struck in quick succession for the Cherries.
Rather than feel sorry for themselves, though, the Blues awoke from their slumber to seize control of proceedings.
And come the final whistle, Kelly felt his side were good value for at least a point.
He said: ‘They (the players) showed good signs mentally to get themselves back in it and regroup after the goals.
‘And once we settled down and got back into our normal flow we started playing some good football.
‘We had a few good chances before we scored, with Brandon (Haunstrup) getting on the end of it for us.
‘And from then on in, we were putting a lot of pressure on in dangerous areas.
‘We were pushing on and firing in shots – when the goal arrived it was a continuation of five or 10 minutes worth of pressure.
‘Harvey (Bradbury) picked it up in the last minute for us and buried it in the back of the net.
‘For me, the lads showed good character to come back and get the draw.
‘But to be honest, had the game gone another two or three minutes, I think we probably would have got the winner.’
Pompey Academy host Barnet in the league at Furze Lane on Saturday (11am).