Mark Kelly believes Pompey Academy’s heavy defeat to Bournemouth will be an important part of their education.
The young Blues went down 7-0 at Canford Arena, with Jake Scrimshaw doing most of the damage for the hosts.
He hit four goals and struck the post with a penalty, with Ryan Glover and James Oliver also on target before the game was wrapped up by Euan Pollock late on.
Academy manager Kelly said: “It’s a massive reality check for them on how life will be in professional football.
“It was our third game in a week and we were magnificent the previous Saturday against Exeter. We went to Plymouth on Tuesday, stepping up to under-23 level and showing a lot of energy and effort.
“Then we had a game against local rivals and were three yards off all over the park. We conceded the first goal and the momentum was against us.
“Fair play to Bournemouth – they spotted our frailties and immediately exploited them. We were rushing and making mistakes, and just couldn’t claw things back.
"The boys were devastated in the dressing room afterwards, as they have every right to be, but it’s a key area of their education."
“When you get these busy periods, you have to get your mind, body and recovery all set. The staff can work hard, but the players need to be able to manage the situation.
“You’re not always going to be feeling 100 per cent going into a game, so the mentality has to be as strong as the physicality and technical ability.
“But if you start low – either as a group or an individual – then you will always end up with days like these and things can spiral very quickly.
“The boys were devastated in the dressing room afterwards, as they have every right to be, but it’s a key area of their education.
“They’re getting used to the full-time environment and a defeat like that is one of the biggest learning curves you can have.
“When you’re winning academy games every week you don’t realise these things can happen at senior level.
“But every footballer who’s ever played has been in a situation where things haven’t worked from start to finish.
“Our lads are hurting now, but the important thing is the lessons we take from it and how we respond in the next match.”
Pompey: Pitman; Mnoga (Kelly 46), Dandy, Robb; Read, Whiting (Bell 75), Bruce (Kavanagh 46), Johnston (Bridgman 46), Flint; Maloney, Stanley