Hunt and Naismith on target for reserves
Pompey Reserves reached the group stage of the Premier League Cup after a 2-0 victory over Barnsley at Westleigh Park.
The hosts fielded a strong side, with recent loan signing Dominic Hyam the only starter yet to make his senior Blues bow.
And a goal in each half from Noel Hunt and Kal Naismith means they now face home and away clashes with Everton, Norwich and Wolves.
The opening 15 minutes passed by without either keeper having to make a save, as both teams battled to gain the upper hand.
It was Naismith who was the first to threaten with a free-kick from 25 yards that flew narrowly past the post.
At the other end, Omari Patrick did well to work his way into space, only to drive his shot well wide of Liam O’Brien’s goal.
Josh Kay’s effort also failed to find the target as the game started to come alive midway through the first half.
Hunt was next to go close when he met a cross from Naismith and finally forced Tykes stopper Jack Walton into action.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 26 minutes when Conor Chaplin received a throw from Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and crossed for HUNT to head home.
The striker almost doubled the advantage moments later, only for Walton to make a tremendous stop and beat the ball away.
And the home side continued to apply pressure in their search for a second, with Walton also denying Matt Clarke.
But it was not all one-way traffic and O’Brien saved from Dylan Mottley-Henry, while Jared Bird fired wide following a fine passing move.
It was Chaplin who had the final say, though, and his shot was narrowly off target just before the interval.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Barnsley 0
Barnsley revealed their attacking intentions at the start of the second half, but it was the hosts who came close to scoring following a quick break.
They won a corner and Ben Tollitt’s delivery was flicked on by Clarke, with the ball agonisingly out of reach for Naismith.
Hunt then displayed some brilliant control out wide and found Chaplin, but could not quite get on the end of his team-mate’s cross.
It was soon Chaplin’s chance to go close and he fired over after Naismith’s trickery had seen him bypass a couple of defenders.
The visitors were still looking threatening themselves, though, and won a series of corners, one of which had to be cleared by a well-placed Kyle Bennett at the near post.
Hunt, meanwhile, was trying to put the result beyond doubt and after uncharacteristically diverting one cross wide, he fired a shot straight at Walton.
But, with Barnsley committing plenty of men forward in an attempt to force extra-time, the Blues did double their lead just before the end.
They launched a quick counter-attack and Hunt fed NAISMITH, who calmly tucked the ball home to secure Pompey’s progress.
Pompey: O’Brien; Oxlade-Chamberlain (C.Davies 73), Hyam, Clarke, Naismith; Tollitt (McDowell 90), May, Close (c), Bennett; Chaplin (Bedford 81), Hunt
Subs not used: Hall, Bradbury
Barnsley: Walton; Kebbie, Rodriguez, Cowgill, Templeton (Bertie 59); Mottley-Henry, Bird, Kay (Palmer 72), Charles (Carvell 59); Brown, Patrick
Subs not used: Greatorex, Proctor
Referee: Dave Rutter