PAUL HARDYMAN praised the character of the Pompey Academy side after they came from behind to thump MK Dons 4-1 at Furze Lane.
The under-18s recovered from an early setback to perfectly execute their high-pressure game plan.
Two goals from Bradley Tarbuck – the second a penalty – either side of Lewis Horsburgh and Ben Close efforts extended the Blues’ unbeaten start to the Football League Youth Alliance south east conference season.
It was reward for the team for sticking to the plan put in place by Academy coach Hardyman and boss Andy Awford.
Hardyman said: ‘We had a game plan that we had been working on in training.
‘At the moment we are looking at the defensive side.
‘We’ve been working through the thirds of the pitch and the boys are starting to understand their roles and responsibilities in that.
‘That culminated in us pressing hard and denying MK Dons any time or any space on the ball.
‘It worked extremely well.
‘We went 1-0 down to a decent MK Dons side.
‘But we didn’t allow them to play as much as they are normally allowed to.
‘We showed great character to come back.
‘In all honesty we probably should’ve won by more.
‘I said to the boys afterwards “it’s not always about the result – it’s about performances”.
‘Sometimes it’s hard when you are winning a game at half-time to maintain that standard in the second half.’
It was the young Blues’ bouncebackability, though, that impressed Hardyman most.
He said: ‘It was an early goal to concede but the good thing about it was that the boys didn’t panic.
‘We’ve told them that sometimes you have to deal with adversity in games and it doesn’t always go the way you want it to do.
‘It’s important to stay resilient and ensure you don’t go and concede quickly again.
‘Thankfully they didn’t.
‘We got back into the game quite quickly ourselves and then we’d scored two, three, four.
‘All of those goals came relatively quickly and in a short passage of play for us.’
For Hardyman, it was a Saturday of double delight.
His under-16s side recorded an emphatic 10-1 victory over their MK Dons counterparts.
He said: ‘The under-16s had a great result.
‘It’s a fantastic and thoroughly deserved win for them.
‘Both the under-16s and under-18s are tootling along quite nicely at the moment.’
Pompey Academy will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they visit Luton Town this Saturday.
Conor Chaplin is a doubt with a back injury.