Narrow defeat to Pompey - but we're through
Portsmouth 3-2 Spurs U21s (Checkatrade Trophy)
Tue 13 November 2018, 21:57|Tottenham Hotspur
Our young Development Squad fought valiantly at Fratton Park on Tuesday night but suffered a 3-2 defeat in the last group stage game of the Checkatrade Trophy.
Phoenix Patterson had opened the scoring 19 minutes in with a fine finish from close range, but the home side roared back into the game and got their leveller through Andre Green before boss Kenny Jackett drafted in the cavalry with substitutes Gareth Evans and Oli Hawkins firing Portsmouth into a 3-1 lead. A late free-kick from Harvey White made it a tight affair until the end but we headed home empty handed on the night. However, Gillingham’s 2-1 win over Crawley Town ensures we finish in second in Southern Group A and means we will be in Friday’s draw for the next round – the first time we have ever reached the second stage after our debut in the competition last term.
Four members of our Under-18s squad lined up against Pompey with Jamie Bowden, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, White and Patterson all starting on the south coast while the presence of Dilan Markanday, Armando Shashoua, Troy Parrott and Rodel Richards on the bench further demonstrated coach Wayne Burnett’s confidence in the younger members of his squad. Jackett, meanwhile, made 11 changes to his Portsmouth side that had beaten Maidenhead United 4-0 in their FA Cup tie on Saturday, including starts for ex-Spurs duo Luke McGee and Anton Walkes.
We opened the game brightly as our young side began to move the ball about confidently under the lights. Aston Villa loanee Green had the game’s first opportunity on 18 minutes, but his fierce strike was saved well by Alfie Whiteman. Within a minute of Green’s effort, however, we were in the lead with Patterson volleying in from close range. An inch-perfect through pass from Bowden picked out Patterson’s darting run, allowing the midfielder to hit a first-time shot. His strike was initially saved by McGee, but Patterson reacted quickest to smash the loose ball into the empty net from the left angle.
The home side, roared on by a 3,000-plus crowd, immediately piled the pressure on to find an equaliser but striker Bradley Letheridge, defender Christian Burgess and midfielder David Wheeler all failed to beat our resilient back line before we had a great chance to extend our lead through Dylan Duncan, but the winger dragged his shot wide.
Having put on a mature performance in the first period, we found ourselves on the back foot at the start of the second half with Pompey starting with the same tempo that they finished with before the interval. It was that pressure that would put them level on 50 minutes. Louis Dennis picked out the 6ft 4in Burgess from a corner, who headed the ball towards goal. His effort was blocked on the line, but the loose ball fell kindly to Green who prodded in from close range.
Pushing for a winner, Portsmouth rang the changes on 66 minutes with first team regulars Matt Clarke, Hawkins and Evans all entering the fray and the changes paid off as three minutes later, the home side were in front. A foul on the edge of our box gave substitute Evans the chance to test Whiteman from 20 yards out and the midfielder did more than that as the keeper was left rooted with Evans’ free-kick curling low around the wall and into the net.
Portsmouth had their third goal of the night with nine minutes of the game still to play as another of their substitutes found the back of the net. Winger Wheeler battled his way down the right-hand side of our box and managed to sneak a ball towards the front post. That ball was met by the in-form Hawkins, who flicked into the net from close range.
White gave us a late reward for our efforts as he stepped up to curl in a free-kick from 20 yards after Parrott was fouled on the edge of the box, but time ran out soon afterwards.
Having equalised through Green’s strike on 50 minutes and with the pressure rising on our defence, Portsmouth decided to press for the win by bringing on three fresh faces with Clarke, Evans and Hawkins being introduced to the game.
All three are regular starters for the League One leaders while Hawkins in particular has been in top form in front of goal as of late, with the striker finding the back of the net four times in his last five games.
The substitutions were to have an immediate and telling impact on the game as Evans sent his free-kick past Whiteman just three minutes after coming on to give the home side the lead before Hawkins made it five goals in six as he bundled in Portsmouth’s third of the evening.
Coach Wayne Burnett was pleased with the maturity shown by some of the younger members of the squad on the night: “We’ve lost the game but I think we’ve won in a way,” he said. “We’ve qualified, which is a bonus, but there are some players that have come out of the game with massive credit as they haven’t played in these types of situations before. I think the experience will hold them in good stead. We’ve come to a place we’re they’re flying high, they’ve got good players, a good manager and a good pedigree as a team so it’s a fantastic place to come and play. I think we can only learn and grow from this, which I think we will do. I’m disappointed with the result but if we can learn from it, we’ll continue to grow.”
On the manner of the goals conceded, Wayne continued: “We knew that they’d be a threat from set-pieces. We gave a silly goal away with the first and the second was a free-kick, but they were both disappointing to concede. We managed to get one back a little too late. We were pushing but it was just a little bit too late.”
On our qualification for the next stage, he added: “I think it shows progress. We didn’t win a game last year. Okay, we’ve drawn one, we’ve won one and we’ve lost one but that’s been enough for us to get through and qualify. We have seen progress, but these games are invaluable to us. The challenges we’re presented with are completely different to what we face in our league campaign. If you keep being presented with the same problem, you tend to find a solution, but we had to find a different answer tonight because the problems were different. The players did find an answer in a way, but not the result.”
Portsmouth 3-2 Spurs U21s (Checkatrade Trophy)
Portsmouth: McGee, Mnoga (Evans 66), Walkes, Burgess (c), Haunstrup, Close, Rose, Wheeler, Dennis, Green (Clarke 66), Lethbridge (Hawkins 66). Substitutes (not used): MacGillivray, Brown.
Spurs: Whiteman, Lyons-Foster, Tanganga, Marsh (c), Brown, White, Bowden (A Shashoua 89), Oakley-Boothe (Parrott 86), Duncan (Richards 75), Patterson, Sterling. Substitutes (not used): Glover, Markanday.
Goals: Portsmouth - Green 50, Evans 69, Hawkins 81; Spurs - Patterson 19; White 90.
Referee: James Linington.
Venue: Fratton Park, Portsmouth.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 12 degrees.