Kelly’s pride after Portsmouth Academy’s cruel defeat to Liverpool

Pompey celebrate Joe Hancott's equaliser at Liverpool. Picture: Colin Farmery
Pompey celebrate Joe Hancott's equaliser at Liverpool. Picture: Colin Farmery
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Mark Kelly saluted his Pompey Academy troops after their gut-wrenching defeat to Liverpool and declared: The boys will learn from it. 

But the Blues boss admitted his side were punished for lapses in concentration against the Premier League club’s Category One outfit in the FA Youth Cup third round.

Bobby Duncan’s stoppage-time goal condemned Pompey to a 3-2 third-round loss at Langtree Park.

That was after the visitors battled from two goals behind in the second half against the Reds.

Bradley Lethbridge’s penalty and Joe Hancott's strike restored parity for Pompey – and they had opportunities to win the tie.

Yet Duncan’s 93rd-minute winner meant the Blues were cruelly knocked out of the competition.

Kelly was always confident Pompey could hold their own against Liverpool – and was proud with the way his youngsters performed.

And he feels the loss will be vital for their education.

The Blues’ youth chief said: ‘The boys stood up all over the pitch but it’s not something we didn’t expect.

‘We never expected to come here and not to win. We know we’ve got a good group.

‘There were a few tears in the changing room and we’re going to have to pick them up.

‘They thought they competed and know they should have got something out of it.

‘Second half we were the better side, for sure. There were a few tweaks and the boys went out and showed what they could do as individuals, as well as a group.

‘We knew we could go out in the second half and score goals.

‘We changed the shape a little bit, got back to 2-2 and from that moment on we had three or four good chances to go and put it to bed.

‘It’s just concentration and the education of it. They’ll learn more from that than anything else because when your heart sinks that low then there’s only one way to go.

‘They’ve just had one of them nights and we’ve all been on the receiving end of it.’

Pompey found themselves two goals down after 33 minutes through strikes from Duncan and Abdi Sharif.

After the Blues moved back on level terms, Duncan – who is the cousin of Kop legend Steven Gerrard – sent the visitors back to Fratton Park empty-handed.

Although Kelly was delighted with Pompey’s performances, he admitted Liverpool’s three goals were preventable.

The youth chief added: ‘Joe Hancott, bless him, knows he should have put the ball into row Z or back to the goalkeeper (in the run up to the winner).

‘Then from the corner, you’ve got to set yourself and be disciplined.

‘Even the two goals in the first half weren’t great goals. They broke because we hadn't concentrated properly or got good contact on the ball.

‘That’s bread and butter stuff for your centre-half. I’m frustrated for the boys.’