Pompey’s young players will learn plenty from their dramatic FA Youth Cup defeat to Cambridge.
That is the view of Zesh Rehman after watching his young charges suffer a 5-4 defeat after extra-time at Fratton Park.
Jamie Howell’s brace and a Koby Mottoh finish meant they lead on three separate occasions, only for the visitors to strike right at the death to take the tie beyond 90 minutes.
United then netted twice in quick succession and were cruising into round three before Mottoh’s stunning strike set up a tense finale.
The Blues were unable to find the target again, but there were still positives for Rehman to take from the performance.
Pompey’s lead professional development phase coach said: “The game provided a rollercoaster of emotions for the boys, but they should still be proud of their efforts.
“When you look at where we were at the start of the season to where we are now, the group has come such a long way.
"The game provided a rollercoaster of emotions for the boys, but they should still be proud of their efforts."
“It's our first defeat for just over two months and every single one of them gave everything – that’s all I can ask for as a coach.
“I thought we looked really dangerous when we got the ball out wide and sent crosses into the box. We were a threat.
“Koby scored an excellent goal in extra-time and Harvey Laidlaw put in some great deliveries. There were a lot of sound individual displays.
“We fell a bit short and didn’t quite hit our usual standards, but were a bit unlucky not to see the game out at 3-2 ahead.
“There were a couple of decisions that went against us, which is part of football and something you have to deal with.
“I don’t see this result as a failure – it’s a learning opportunity. They’ll learn a lot about themselves and each other.
“Now we’re looking for a reaction because we’ve got our Youth Alliance Cup quarter-final at MK Dons on Saturday.
“Then there’s a midweek league game with Plymouth, who are right up there in the table, so the boys have to dust themselves down quickly.”