Kenny Jackett explained why no players on the Pompey periphery featured in the reserves’ defeat to the Hawks on Wednesday night.
The Blues fielded a youthful side as they fell to a 7-0 Hampshire Senior Cup loss at Westleigh Park.
First-year professional Matt Casey, 19, was the oldest player involved, while the rest of the squad was made up of academy players.
Despite the likes of Anton Walkes, Paul Downing, Brandon Haunstrup and Andy Cannon needing match minutes, they weren’t selected.
Jackett revealed it was because Pompey wanted to see how their youngsters fared when thrown into the deep end against the National League South promotion-chasers.
And with another reserve fixture at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, those on the fringes at Fratton Park could play in that clash.
The Pompey boss said: ‘We wanted to try to play all of the youth boys. We started with five youth-team players then five were under-19s and Matt Casey is under-20.
‘It gave those boys the chance to play against what we felt would be a strong outfit.
‘We weren’t sure what side they would put out but we knew it would be a strong outfit. It was about the younger players getting the chance and opportunity to play.
‘That was Mark Kelly selecting that side and working with it. Maybe we will be slightly different next week when we have another reserve game.
‘But there have got to be games against senior players when you put quite a young side out and see how they fare.
‘It was a frustrating result but you do learn a lot about your young players. Unless you put them in at the right time, you don’t find out.
‘Some of the older lads that played have had plenty of games with the likes of Anton Walkes, Brandon Haunstrup, Paul Downing and Andy Cannon – those lads that have been subs of late.
‘The better younger boys have played with them but sometimes that can be false as well because the older lads carry them.
‘You do feel you need to put a few of their own age group around them.’
For the Hawks, the likes of Simon Walton, Anthony Straker and Danny Kedwell have all previously played in the Football League.
And Jackett felt it gave Pompey a yardstick to judge the youngsters.
He added: ‘As well as playing Saturday morning stuff, you need to have games against men and players who are part of the football pyramid.
‘There were a lot of players for Havant I would have played against down the years and can follow their careers.
‘You're judging the young lads against them.’