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Reserves Draw With Dons

Widdrington on target for Blues

30 January 2018

Pompey Reserves

Pompey Reserves ended their Central League Cup campaign with a 1-1 group stage draw against AFC Wimbledon.

Two previous defeats meant the Blues were unable reach the semi-finals whatever the outcome at Gosport’s Privett Park.

But it looked like they would end on a high when Theo Widdrington struck late on, only for Alfie Egan to grab an equaliser.

There were six academy players starting for the hosts, although Conor Chaplin and Adam May provided some first team experience.

And the duo were both involved when it appeared that Pompey had broken the deadlock in the opening stages.

When Chaplin’s free-kick was fumbled by Nik Tzanev, May’s follow-up hit the post and although Dan Smith bundled home the loose ball, it was ruled out for offside.

Alex Bass dived low to his right to deny Egan at the other end, while a diving header form Chaplin flew wide midway through the first half.

May then saw his side-footed effort cleared from the line, while an apparent push on Chaplin in the box went unpunished.

But it was the Dons who almost scored just before the break, with Bass doing well to keep out Egan’s close-range attempt.

Half Time: Pompey 0 AFC Wimbledon 0

The visitors had another chance early in the second half when Egli Kaja’s corner was flicked on, but former Blues defender Paul Robinson could only fire into the arms of Bass.

It was proving a fairly mundane contest, although Chaplin did his best to try to excite the watching crowd.

His teasing delivery somehow evaded advancing team-mates in the box, while one shot just about cleared the bar and another was smothered by Tzanev.

Widdrington then so nearly gave the hosts a lead, only to see his fierce effort fizz narrowly past the post.

But the midfielder did open the scoring on 81 minutes, spotting Tzanev off his line and floating a 30-yard free-kick over the head of the keeper.

It seemed like that would be enough to secure victory but, with time running out, Kaja squared the ball for Egan to convert from a few yards out.

"Conor was particularly vibrant up front, while the young professionals put in a shift and everyone showed a positive attitude."

Mark Kelly

Academy manager Mark Kelly said: “The lads were excellent and approached the game well against an experienced Wimbledon side with plenty of first team exposure.

“Conor was particularly vibrant up front, while the young professionals put in a shift and everyone showed a positive attitude.

“We had enough chances to win the match comfortably, so the only disappointing thing is that one little lapse late on has cost us.”

Pompey: Bass; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Casey, Dandy, Hancott; Johnston (Read 81), Widdrington, May, Chandler (Lethbridge 57); Smith, Chaplin (c)
Subs not used: Collins, Brooks, Mayes

AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, Sibbick, Robinson, Kalambayi (c), Kennedy, Kaja, Hartigan, Parrett (Pingling 59), Forrester, Egan, Piggott (Shango 59)
Subs not used: Miles, Ashley, Collins

Referee: Harry Scott

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