MIKEY HARRIS shrugged aside Pompey Academy’s losing start to 2015 and insisted: I’m proud of the lads.
A youthful Blues side – deprived of all six second-year scholars – fell to a valiant 2-0 defeat at Youth Alliance League south and west division leaders Bournemouth yesterday afternoon.
Conor Chaplin, Chad Field, James Granger, Lewis Gill, Brandon Haunstrup and Fahad Rawakarambe were all instead involved in the reserve team’s 3-3 draw at Plymouth, with Gill on target at Home Park.
First-year scholar Snorre Nilsen was also named for the club’s second string with Academy keeper Alex Bass an unused substitute.
That left Harris to field an unfamiliar starting line-up, with a number of under-16s players handed a chance to impress in the Blues’ first competitive action of the new year.
And despite the result, coach Harris was pleased that his young guns did themselves justice.
He said: ‘We had a very, very young side out, with several players involved with the reserve team.
‘That gave the under-16s a chance to step up and they did well against a strong Bournemouth side.
‘They are top of the league, so it was a good challenge for the boys.
‘We had plenty of chances and on another day I believe we could have won the game.
‘But for me, it’s more about the performance.
‘It was also nice to see the first-year scholars take the lead role yesterday, which again is a different challenge and experience for them.
‘Despite the result, I’m proud of the lads.’
The Blues fell behind early on when a cross from the right was clinically converted by the hosts.
Harris’ side then grew into the contest with Liam Sayers’ effort cleared off the line before Eddie Wakley struck a post.
The visitors, though, were ultimately made to pay for missed chances as the Cherries scored on a second-half counter attack to secure the win.
The return of defender Dory Yates from a long-term injury, was also a huge positive.
Harris added: ‘Dory broke his leg 11 months ago, so to see him back in action was a huge boost.’
POMPEY ACADEMY: George, Davies, May, Wakley, (Yates, 77), McDowell, Grange, Widdrington, (Scutt, 60), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joseph-Buadi, Sayers, Woodward (Haitham, 46)