Pompey Academy are not getting carried away with their impressive unbeaten start to the season.
That’s the message from youth-team boss Mark Kelly as the Blues’ youngsters top the early Youth Alliance League south west division standings.
A third successive league win – and fourth in all competitions – arrived in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph over previous table-toppers Exeter at Furze Lane.
Harvey Bradbury was at the double for the in-form hosts after defender Ousman Saidy had opened the scoring.
But for Kelly and under-18s coach Mikey Harris, it is less about results at this level and more about player development – a message the duo have reiterated over their past two seasons at the helm.
‘We talk about it all of the time,’ said Kelly.
‘It’s about development for us, not results.
‘But the right result is based on a number of different things.
‘What’s pleasing is that it (the Academy’s start to the season) shows our pattern of work has come to the fore.
‘The boys are enjoying themselves and working hard every day – that is what they need to do.
‘And what is nice is we are seeing lads take on board different bits of education and information and becoming a bit more resilient as well.
‘They are learning as they play, which is a big part of it.’
One teenager still learning their craft is striker Bradbury – son of former Blues forward Lee.
But with five goals in as many league outings this term – including Saturday’s double against the Grecians – Kelly is happy the front man is excelling in the most demanding position of all.
He said: ‘Harvey took his goals well but for strikers, that’s life.
‘There is no difference between a Harvey Bradbury and a Conor Chaplin.
‘The process is that if you are a front man you are getting judged on one thing – that is the ball going in the back of the net.
‘Harvey is becoming efficient at it and he needs to keep cracking on.’
Having thrived as part of a strike partnership alongside Matt Mayes, Bradbury could be asked to adapt to a new role and system in the coming weeks.
‘I don’t get hung up on systems,’ added Kelly.
‘We have been playing with two up front but we might end up playing with one up top or with three up there.
‘We will go through blocks of work to give the boys that education of different shapes.’
In-form Pompey Academy are in Youth Alliance Cup action this weekend as they host Dagenham & Redbridge at Furze Lane (11am), with fans encouraged to attend ahead of the first-team’s clash with Wycombe (3pm).
– JEFF MARSHMAN