Youngsters eye Bolton shock in bid to extend winning run

It has been seven straight wins for Pompey's youngsters.

Thursday, 6th December 2012, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:05 pm

Now the Academy face their stiffest challenge yet with a trip to Bolton in the FA Youth Cup.

The last time the Blues suffered defeat was at Bournemouth on Saturday, September 8.

Since then they have embarked on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including triumphs in their past seven fixtures.

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It’s a remarkable return from Andy Awford’s players, who have scored 19 goals and conceded just three in the process.

With no match this weekend, their next opponents are Bolton on Monday night.

The Trotters are currently second in national Group 1 of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.

In the process, they have lost just one match.

Yet they will lock horns with a free-scoring and in-form Pompey side which has Bradley Tarbuck leading the way with eight goals.

And coach Paul Hardyman is delighted with the consistent performances the youngsters continue to produce.

He said: ‘We always knew we had quite an attacking team but the amount of goals we were conceding was ridiculous.

‘Then after that Bournemouth defeat we sat the lads down and focused on being more organised, tighter, with the aim of stopping conceding silly goals and making sure of their responsibilities within the team.

‘Thankfully they have taken it on board and since then have been hard to beat.

‘With such a small squad we have been able to do individual coaching – trying to improve them – and the lads have really listened.

‘They are a good bunch, they all want to succeed, which is what you expect, and have worked at their individual and team responsibilities.

‘In this standard of football we are playing we have quite a strong team and a football team for sure.

‘We want to pass it, we want to keep the ball, that’s a principle all the coaches are pressing.

‘On Monday we probably have the toughest draw of all the academies.

‘People in the north are saying it’s the strongest youth team Bolton have had for years. A real good crop.

‘It’s another game, another experienced for the boys but it’s going to be tough, no doubt about it.

‘It will be interesting to see how our lads cope after our own excellent run.’

The third-round tie will take place on Monday (December 10).

The fixture is being held at the Reebok Stadium (7pm).

The Academy are back in league action on Wednesday (December 12).

They face Southend at Eastleigh, with the chance of moving above them into fourth spot.