Craddock nets in 3-2 Cambridge triumph
Pompey Reserves secured second spot in the Final Third Development League table with a 3-2 victory at Cambridge.
Tom Craddock – the only senior player in a side containing academy prospects and trialists – saw a penalty saved before Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain found the target.
But the Blues trailed at the break and it took second half strikes from Craddock and Brandon Joseph-Buadi to secure the three points.
Pompey forced the first opening when trialist Kyle De Silva played a fine pass through to Craddock, but the striker was unable to keep his shot down.
De Silva then weaved his way into the box, only for his goal-bound effort to cannon off a defender and over the crossbar.
Another chance arrived following a quick counter-attack, but Joseph-Buadi chose to shoot instead of finding Craddock and the ball trickled harmlessly past the post.
The visitors had started brightly and should have broken the deadlock midway through the first half when Cambridge were penalised for a handball in the area.
Craddock stepped up to take the spot-kick, but United keeper Sam McDermid went the right way and saved low to his right.
He tried to make immediate amends for the miss and forced McDermid into a decent save as the Blues continued to push forward.
And they did take a deserved lead on 23 minutes, courtesy of a low effort from long-range by OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN.
Pompey were looking comfortable, but somehow went in behind at the break following two goals in quick succession from Ollie Pearce.
He levelled the scores after being in the right place to convert when Alex Bass had foiled Connor Walden’s initial attempt.
Then, seconds later, Walden and Pearce combined again, with the latter receiving a pass and finding the net.
Half Time: Cambridge 2 Pompey 1
Pompey got the second half off to a strong start and immediately started to pen Cambridge back into their own half.
And they were soon rewarded when Oxlade-Chamberlain drilled a free-kick into the box and CRADDOCK arrived to convert it.
That seemed to spark the hosts into gear and they came close to restoring their advantage with an effort from Ayrton Bevins that Bass kept out at his near post.
But it was still the Blues who were looking the more fluent in attack and Adam May saw his strike deflected behind on the hour mark.
And the forged ahead moments later, with JOSEPH-BUADI firing home after his initial shot had been blocked.
The action was now switching quickly from end to end and Harry White sent the ball flying inches over the bar.
Chances started to become more limited as the game reached its conclusion, but Pompey finished stronger and Brandon Haunstrup twice went close before the final whistle.
Cambridge: McDermid; Banton, Tancock, Burns, Hill; Horne, Williams, Bevins (Chambers-Shaw 62), Pearce; Walden (Lentell 76), White
Subs not used: Hogan, Joynes
Pompey: Bass; Brister, Field, Sanders, Long; Joseph-Buadi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, May, Haunstrup (Yates 90); De Silva (Sayers 87), Craddock (Davies 59)
Referee: Robert Evans