Hardyman praise for Pompey reserve return

Conor Chaplin. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143500-022)
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143500-022)
  • Pompey finish second in inaugural reserve league
  • Chaplin, May, Close and Webster just some of the regulars to progress into first-team squad
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Paul Hardyman is convinced Pompey’s return to reserve-team football has proven priceless.

And the first-team coach has urged the club to keep financial faith in the system.

This season we have gone up against higher-level teams and acquitted ourselves quite well and I am more than happy how it has gone

Paul Hardyman

The newly-formed Final Third Development League kicked off in September, with the Blues one of the founding members.

It represented the resurrection of the reserve-team format following its axing several years earlier.

Pompey ended their campaign with a 3-2 success at Cambridge United on Tuesday, the goals delivered by Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Craddock and Brandon Joseph-Buadi.

That result ensured they finished in second spot in the eight-team South Division, with Luton taking the title.

Hardyman’s side are also in the finals of the Final Third Development Southern Cup, which will be played as part of pre-season next term.

And for the ex-Blues left-back, the club’s involvement has proven worthwhile.

Hardyman said: ‘It has been massively worth it, definitely, without it you are scrimping and scraping trying to get games.

‘In the past you play Premier League and Championship teams in a friendly and they end up putting out players from that level and it is too much.

‘Our lads get downtrodden really because they end up being beaten by five or six, which isn’t what it’s about. It’s about developing these lads for the arena they can play in.

‘This season we have gone up against higher-level teams and acquitted ourselves quite well and I am more than happy how it has gone.

‘We have mixed up selection and most of the first-team pros have played for the reserves this season. Ben Chorley, Craig Westcarr, Nigel Atangana, Danny Hollands, Nicky Shorey, Johnny Ertl, they’ve all featured.

‘At Cambridge we had first-year scholars featuring such as Adam May, Calvin Davies, Dory Yates and Liam Sayers, so it has been a fantastic learning curve for everybody, which makes it worthwhile in my mind.

‘The difficulty comes when you look at the cost of it financially.

‘You have to pay for coach travel, referees, pitch hire, it does become an expense and is something the club has to decide if such an expense is worth it in the long-term.

‘I would think it is a must due to the benefits we have gained this season from it.’

Conor Chaplin finished top scorer with seven goals.

He now finds himself in the first-team squad along with fellow reserve regulars Ben Close, Adam May and Adam Webster.

And for Hardyman the benefits of the system is there for all to see.

He added: ‘It’s really good to finish second, especially considering you don’t get that much time to work with the lads.

‘We probably have one day a week prior to the game and then the match day – and thankfully they have taken it on board.

‘From a development point of view, you only have to see the likes of Conor, Adam May, Ben and Adam Webster in the first-team to see it benefits to the club.’