Paul Hardyman believes some of the Pompey reserve side failed to take their opportunity to put themselves back into first-team contention after their 4-1 loss at AFC Wimbledon.
The Blues first-team coach shrugged off suggestions that the players may not have been properly motivated for a game at Merstham FC and insisted it was down to them to give watching boss Andy Awford a selection nudge.
Hardyman said: ‘These games are about getting your match fitness and putting yourself in the window to show what you can do to the manager and the assistant manager, who were both watching.
‘When the first team have been playing as they have lately, you would like a bit of a backlash from these lads to say “I want a bit of that”.
‘They’ve got to rise to that challenge.
‘Anyone can sit and sulk about not being involved but it’s about doing things right and getting into the first team.
‘There were some young lads out there trying to impress and some senior lads trying to get back in the first team.
‘These games are not a punishment. A few of them did their job and a few will be disappointed with their performance.
‘If you don’t have that hunger, you will not get back into the team.
‘For me, it shouldn’t matter if you are playing at Merstham or at Fratton Park – there is no difference.
‘As a professional sportsperson, it should make no difference.
‘Rory McIlroy would still be trying to play the best shots he can whether he is playing at a municipal golf course or at Augusta. That’s why he is at the top of his sport.’
While Pompey were guilty of some sloppy defensive errors, they also spurned chances to get back into the game.
Hardyman said: ‘We committed the cardinal sin. We created chances and didn’t take them and we let them take theirs far too easily.
‘I don’t think they were three goals better than us but that’s not the point.
‘It’s about doing the defending and the attacking sides of the game right and we didn’t do either as well as we have done lately.
‘That’s massively disappointing.’
– STEVE WILSON