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Academy Held At Bristol Rovers

Dominant Blues have to settle for a 2-2 draw

20 November 2022

Sam Folarin
Photo: Jason Brown

Academy Held At Bristol Rovers

Dominant Blues have to settle for a 2-2 draw

20 November 2022

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Pompey’s long winning run came to an end as they were held to a 2-2 Youth Alliance League draw at Bristol Rovers.

Sam Folarin (pictured) volleyed home the opener late in the first half, but the home side levelled shortly after the interval.

The Blues quickly shook off that setback to retake the lead, with Koby Mottoh collecting Adam Payce’s pass and finding the net.

Their opponents had rarely threatened Bastian Smith’s goal, but grabbed an equaliser with just a few minutes remaining.

Lead professional development phase coach Zesh Rehman said: “We looked a constant threat and pinned Bristol Rovers in for large periods of the first half.

“Koby, Sam and Spencer Spurway all had shots well saved before we managed to take the lead in the 40th minute.

“It was a trademark diagonal pass from Spencer into Sam, who adjusted himself superbly and hit a first-time side-foot volley into the net.

“We should have been out of sight by the time we went in for the break and I would like to see us be more ruthless when we have that momentum.

“Our opponents equalised with a powerful individual goal, which presents an ideal learning opportunity for our defenders to reflect on and correct next week.

“Part of their development involves recognising the challenges that different types of striker pose and how to solve those problems during the game, without always being told the solution.

“We went back ahead on the hour mark, with Adam winning a second ball coming in from the left and passing into the stride of Koby, who finished well from inside the box.

“He’s consistently giving us goals and assists – his end product has vastly improved because he’s getting shots off when he can.

“Jayden Keteku from our U16 made a positive impact in the second half, immediately injecting more energy and enthusiasm into the wide areas.

“His willingness to make positive forward runs and bust a gut to get into the box is similar to Koby and he worked well with Harvey Laidlaw on the left.

"Despite taking 13 points from our past five league games, the boys were disappointed not to get the win."

Zesh Rehman

“He could have scored twice if he had adjusted his feet earlier, but Jayden is coachable and a good learner. He only needs to be told an instruction once for it to be acted upon.

“We maintained our dominance with lots of final third and box entries, but Rovers levelled on 87 minutes from a far post cross, which was only their second shot on our goal all game.

“The defenders are experiencing some new challenges as a back four, which will no doubt benefit their long-term development.

“We rotated the squad, but still looked strong. Bastian started in goal and showed good distribution throughout, while Kevin Bosaka demonstrated his psychological flexibility at right-back.

“Harvey put in some dangerous early crosses that could have resulted in goals if we had shown more determination to dominate the near post.

“Mitch Aston and Dan Murray maintained good distances in midfield and were close enough to play to each other.

“They helped us build up better than last week with intelligent positioning and gave us solidity behind the ball. I really liked the way they encouraged each other with positive body language.

“Sam and Max Hurst have now started four games as a front two, resulting in us scoring 12 times. Their partnership will continue to flourish the more they play together.

“They are always connected with the press and so honest with their work-rate. When you have strikers who can turn a bad ball into a good one by chasing lost causes relentlessly, it’s only a matter of time before their hard work is rewarded with more goals.

“Despite taking 13 points from our past five league games, the boys were disappointed not to get the win.

“However, we must appreciate that one point is better than none. We have maintained our long unbeaten run and are riding high in the Youth Alliance league with a game in hand.

“They should be very proud of their efforts and we will continue to prioritise the process of producing good performances.

“We expect the products of our academy environment to show a competitive mindset day in, day out – and play to win.”

Pompey: Smith; Bosaka, Dockerill, Spurway (Fox 60), Laidlaw; Payce (Keteku 60), Murray, Aston (Simpson 71), Mottoh; Hurst, Folarin
Sub not used: Osei-Owusu

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