Academy relishing forthcoming south coast derby experience

Ben Close on the ball for Pompey against Barton. Pic: Mick Young
Ben Close on the ball for Pompey against Barton. Pic: Mick Young

Paul Hardyman is relishing going toe-to-toe with Pompey’s fierce local rivals – and a few familiar faces.

The Academy secured an FA Youth Cup clash with Southampton following a 1-0 victory over Barton Rovers on Tuesday night.

Lewis Horsburgh’s first-half shot was the only goal of the game.

But the young Blues should have beaten the non-leaguers by a far more comfortable margin.

The third-round fixture with Southampton will take place next month, although the precise date is still being finalised.

Supporter arrangements will also need to be assessed, considering the necessity of stewarding and policing for a south coast derby encounter.

In the meantime, the Academy are excitedly counting down the days until they lock horns with their neighbours.

Coach Hardyman said: ‘It’s about local pride and our lads are really looking forward to it.

‘Southampton also have a couple of lads who used to be here and were taken from us and it will be a case of they will want to prove a point.

‘But we have players here who are Portsmouth born and bred and know what it means to the city and club itself and it will be a passionate affair, I am sure.

‘They have Josh Sims, who was here as a youngster and walked away from the club a few years ago, and also goalkeeper Harry Isted was with us.

‘They have another lad called Armani Little, who is a Portsmouth boy, so there are three lads there but leaving here was not through our choice.

‘We keep saying to our boys that we don’t feel we are a category three club, it’s not about the standard of players we have got here it’s about the standard of facilities, that is where the difference is.

‘We will go there on a level playing field football-wise and will do the best we can and give it a good crack for Portsmouth Football Club.’

Southampton Academy manager Jason Dodd was present to see the Blues triumph on Tuesday night.

The fixture must take place before December 21, with December 10 and 17 looking like realistic options – both Tuesday nights.

The police will also need to be consulted when considering whether to allow away supporters into St Mary’s for the match and the financial costs it could incur.

Still plenty of variables for both clubs to mull over in the planning for what will inevitably be an eagerly-anticipated meeting between the fierce rivals.

And in terms of football, Hardyman is expecting a full-blooded affair.

He added: ‘I think it will be a different type of game to those we have so far encountered in the cup.

‘It will be a bit of blood and thunder and a few tackles going in and a bit more commitment.

‘The last two games have been quite nice football matches for us but we will go there and do the horrible side of the game really well, hopefully.

‘It’s what you do in this cup, it’s where you put your strongest teams out, whereas on a Saturday in the league you give lads a chance and look at development.

‘This is the one that everyone wants to win and you get the chance to play against Premier League clubs.’

The Academy travel to Crawley this weekend in the league.

Last Saturday they beat Southend 2-0 at Furze Lane.