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Controversial Defeat For Young Blues

Lethbridge on target as Academy are beaten at Gillingham

11 March 2018

Pompey Academy

Pompey Academy conceded a couple of controversial goals as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Gillingham in Merit League One.

Despite dominating for most of the contest, they fell behind when the referee ignored appeals to stop play so Matt Casey could receive treatment.

Their pleas were ignored, however, and Henry Woods took advantage to score for the Gills, before the Blues centre-back was carried off the pitch.

But Bradley Lethbridge (pictured) levelled before the break with a stunning 30-yard free-kick that was drilled into the top corner.

Pompey had chances to go on and win the game, only to be left with nothing when the linesman decided Jude Arthurs’ effort had crossed the line.

Academy manager Mark Kelly said: “At this stage of the season almost all of our second year scholars are out on loan and playing senior football, while Dan Smith is involved with the first team.

“It’s about giving them challenges, so I’m not too worried about results and it was pleasing to end the game with five under-16s on the pitch.

“We’re looking to the future and trying to give some game time to those boys who will be stepping up in the summer. This is all part of the learning experience.

"I’m not too worried about results and it was pleasing to end the game with five under-16s on the pitch."

Mark Kelly

“But we still controlled the match and had a lot of possession – it’s just that our finishing was not sharp enough and there were some strange decisions.

“Matt went up for a challenge, but landed awkwardly and was clearly in some pain. He was rolling around and we were trying to alert the referee, but he wouldn’t stop play and they scored.

“It was a great finish from Brad to equalise and he missed a couple of good chances after the break, while Leon Maloney and Oscar Johnston also had opportunities they couldn’t take.

“I spoke to Brad afterwards and said I’d rather he started to score more of those chances from inside the box, although he’s getting into good positions.

“Gillingham then put the ball across our six-yard box and Joe Dandy cleared it. Nobody was appealing for anything, but the linesman flagged.

“The referee was five yards away and gave nothing, but the linesman was 35 yards away and he gave a goal!

“Those decisions ultimately cost us, but if we’d have taken the chances that fell our way then it wouldn’t have mattered, so we should have finished it off.”

Pompey: Pitman; Kavanagh (Kelly 73), Dandy, Casey (Mnoga 22), Hancott; Read, Maloney, Whiting (Stanley 67); Johnston, Lethbridge, Flint (Bridgman 52)

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