Isle of Wight boys make the grade

Jack Maloney made his Blues debut in the 1-0 defeat against Leyton Orient on Tuesday night
Jack Maloney made his Blues debut in the 1-0 defeat against Leyton Orient on Tuesday night

Paul Hardyman has paid tribute to the work of his Isle of Wight coaching colleagues after the latest Islander made the step up.

Winger Jack Maloney is the most recent youngster to join the first-team ranks and impressed in a cameo appearance at Leyton Orient on Tuesday.

The 17-year-old from Ryde has joined Butler – who hails from Cowes – in making the short journey across the Solent and eventually into Guy Whittingham’s plans.

But Academy coach Hardyman has not forgotten the efforts of those who spotted and nurtured their talents at such a young age.

Hardyman said: ‘A lot of things go on behind the scenes that people don’t see – the scouting, the coaching through the age groups and everything that goes with it.

‘But we’ve got Roger and Andy North both over there.

‘They have sent us over some good players and the work they do over there is fantastic. They deserve a big pat on the back.

‘Dan and Jack have been with us since the age of nine or 10 and have come all the way through the system. It’s great to see.’

While Butler made a costly mistake as Pompey went down to defeat at Leyton Orient, he has done well in recent weeks as he settles into the first team.

But Maloney was quick to show his flair in his 20-minute run-out with one exciting run to create an opportunity for Jed Wallace.

While the youngster needs time and patience to adjust to his new surroundings, Hardyman pointed to some old Pompey favourites who excelled in wide positions.

He said: ‘Dribbling and running with the ball is a dying art in this country.

‘We saw Jack had that ability and we want to let him have that freedom and not coach it out of him.

‘He thrives in a one-versus-one situation but we also have to explain to him that he doesn’t always have to beat the defender.

‘When I played, we had two wingers in Vince Hilaire and Kevin O’Callaghan who unlocked so many defences for us. That’s what they do.

‘They’d win us free-kicks, get crosses in, create and score goals.

‘On their day, wingers are a threat. But sometimes they don’t get involved in a game enough and we’ve told Jack that is important to get himself involved and stay involved.

‘He has matured and worked at it and it’s really pleasing to see him coming through.’

Hardyman added: ‘Guy Whittingham, Andy Awford and myself had a chat about what the first team needed.

‘It was felt that we needed a winger so then we had to decide if we went out and got one on loan or if we had someone on the books in Jack who deserved a chance.’

The Academy’s clash with Dagenham & Redbridge was postponed last week but they travel to Leyton Orient this weekend.