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Young Blues Beat Bristol Rovers

Academy continue run of fine form

16 October 2022


Young Blues Beat Bristol Rovers

Academy continue run of fine form

16 October 2022

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Koby Mottoh struck twice as Pompey Academy secured a 4-2 victory over Bristol Rovers in the Youth Alliance League.

They fell behind late in the first half at Copnor Road, but responded immediately, with Sam Folarin and Mitch Aston combining to tee-up Mottoh to level.

And the hosts went ahead on the hour mark, as Harvey Laidlaw collected a fine Spencer Spurway pass and finished neatly.

Folarin then flicked the ball on for Jamie Howell, who cut it back for Mottoh to slot home his second goal of the game.

Mitch Aston made sure of the points late on with a long-range strike before Rovers grabbed a stoppage-time consolation from the penalty spot.

Lead professional development phase coach Zesh Rehman said: “We created chances in the first half, but needed to show more conviction in order to convert them.

“Bristol Rovers were in our half too much, winning lots of corners and free-kicks which we dealt with well.

“Our defensive set-piece work with Dan Hill, along with the concentration of the players, has helped us to be very solid in these key moments.

“But we didn’t win enough of our individual battles before the break and that resulted in our visitors taking the lead.

“We levelled less than a minute later, though, demonstrating great belief and a positive reaction to score a well-worked goal.

“Sam Hudson has done lots of work with the players on maintaining possession from throw-ins to overload the opposition and isolate our most dangerous attacking players 1v1.

“A ball thrown into Sam Folarin was well protected and set to Mitch, who played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Koby and he cut inside to score with his left foot.

“We had a player-led half-time team talk. There was excellent engagement and they identified the solutions to problems.

“The level of understanding and details absorbed into our pre-game video presented by Jack Rogers was transferred onto the pitch in the second half.

“We made a couple of changes and both Spencer and Jamie made a good impact. We played in their half more and improved our decision making when in possession.

"Confidence is high, with five wins from our past six fixtures and it’s important that we maintain our standards in training."

Zesh Rehman

“And we took the lead on the hour mark with a pin-point 50-yard diagonal ball over their press from Spencer and into the stride of Harvey, who timed his run well to arrive onto the pass with a terrific touch and calm finish.

“Sam then flicked the ball on from a throw to Jamie and he cut it back for the onrushing Koby to get his second of the game.

“His work-rate every day is consistent and he showed courage to play through pain. The Hampshire Cup involvement with the first team was oxygen for the group – they have been energised and inspired.

“We won more individual battles and small games within the bigger one in the second half and the fourth goal came from aggressive counter-pressing and winning the 3v3 in midfield.

“After good work from Elliott Simpson and Adam Payce to pick up second balls, Mitch was able to beat the keeper with a powerful driven shot from outside the box.

“It was disappointing to concede a penalty right at the death and we will do corrections next week to ensure we learn from the goals we conceded. Recovery runs, stopping counters and being strong in tackles are all non-negotiables.

“Max Whittingham joined us last week as strength and conditioning coach. His professionalism and attention to detail has made an immediate impact.

“We place huge value on fitness and must continue to find ways to get the players fitter, faster and stronger.

“Confidence is high, with five wins from our past six fixtures and it’s important that we maintain our standards in training.

“With a full-strength squad to choose from, this must remain competitive and high in intensity every day.

“Players will find themselves out of the team and squad during the season and it’s crucial they always react in a positive manner.

“These setbacks will build character, accelerate their maturity and encourage an honest self-reflection of performances.

“We have 700 days for them to be exposed to an environment that resembles the real football world in terms of the physical robustness and mental resilience required.

“The player know that the team picks itself during the week – they either train themselves in or out of the starting line-up.”

Pompey: Smith; Quarm, Fox, Dockerill (Spurway 46), Laidlaw; Mottoh (Simpson 74), Payce, Aston, Murray (Kamavuako 35); Hurst (Howell 46), Folarin
Sub not used: Osei-Owusu

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