Pompey Academy’s best ever run in the Youth Alliance Cup came to an end with a narrow quarter-final defeat at MK Dons.
They had roared into a two-goal lead, with Koby Mottoh (pictured) netting for the 12th time this season before teeing-up Adam Payce to double the advantage.
But the hosts struck three times in the second half to ensure they would be the side progressing to the last four of the competition.
Lead professional development phase coach Zesh Rehman said: “We started on the front foot and got ourselves two goals ahead by the break.
“We stuck to the game-plan, pressed in their half and regained possession well to transition into the spaces we had highlighted in our pre-match meeting.
“The opener came after Dan Murray had pounced on a loose pass into midfield and found Sam Folarin.
“He then found the in-form Koby to fire home his 12th goal – the majority of those have come from wing-back, which is outstanding.
“The second goal on 30 minutes came from some excellent play down the right from Koby, who used his body well to create space and drill in a low cross.
“Adam took a brilliant touch on the move before wrapping the ball across the keeper from inside the box.
“He’s always the member of the team that runs the most and is getting a good return of goals and assists when we’re able to find him higher up the pitch with quality deliveries.
"Once the boys understand the importance of dominating their immediate opponent physically, technically and psychologically, they will progress faster."
“Koby is the youngest in the group, but rapidly maturing into a young man who’s showing he is desperate for a career in the game.
“He takes on board the feedback we provide and does his talking on the pitch with a consistent end product. He never complains, is positionally versatile and it’s obvious he needs football.
“We were never troubled in open play during the second half, so it’s very disappointing to concede three goals from set-pieces.
“Once the boys understand the importance of dominating their immediate opponent physically, technically and psychologically, they will progress faster.
“We must work hard to cut out individual errors because that has ultimately cost us in two cup ties. We will digest the setback, draw a line under it and make a plan to bounce back.
“The staff have learned so much about the boys during this challenging period and it’s part of their academy journey to be rotated for loss of form, lack of impact, inconsistent displays and unnecessary accumulation of cards.
“Over time, all of these experiences will help them to develop their individual coping strategies and self-regulation techniques, which they need in both football and life.
“Losing a match should hurt – regardless of the level – but it’s not the end of the world. We need to keep moving onwards and upward.
“We had our hot review immediately after the game had finished. That is done now and we move ahead to the next one.”
Pompey: Osei-Owusu; Fox, Dockerill, Spurway; Mottoh, Aston, Payce (Hurst 46), Murray (Simpson 46), Laidlaw; Folarin, Howell (Kamavuako 46)