Connell delight as young guns close in on title
- Tony Smith
Coach Alan Connell praised his AFC Bournemouth under-18s for their professionalism over the festive period after they had taken a giant step towards winning the EFL Youth Alliance South West Division title.
A hat-trick from Khavarn Williams (main picture) provided the springboard for the Cherries to register an emphatic 9-1 victory over Portsmouth at Dorchester Town’s Avenue Stadium today.
Williams’s clinical treble was added to by Euan Pollock’s double, goals from Luke Pardoe, James Oliver, Jack Wadham and a Brooklyn Genesini penalty.
Victory left the Cherries needing just one point from their final two games to guarantee them being crowned champions, although their superior goal difference has put them in a commanding position at the top of the table.
Connell told afcb.co.uk: “I was very happy with what I saw on the pitch today but I was very happy a week ago when the boys came back after Christmas.
“They had clearly looked after themselves and had done the work that our sports scientist Ben Bradley had given them. They all came back in good shape.
“We had a few decent days’ training in the build-up to the game and I thought we carried that into the match and dominated.
“Portsmouth had a couple of spells as you would expect from a good side but our movement off the ball and our willingness to move the ball quickly caused them a lot of problems.
“As a result, we created a lot of chances and we were ruthless in the fact that we scored nine goals. Although we were clinical, we could have had more with some of the other chances we had.”
DELIGHT: AFC Bournemouth under-18 coach Alan Connell
Defender Harvey Bertrand, who was nursing a hamstring injury, joined Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Connor Kurran-Browne and Christian Saydee on the sidelines with goalkeeper Cameron Plain also not used as he is tonight due to play for loan club Wimborne Town.
In their respective absences, several players staked a claim to start when the Cherries host Cardiff City in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at Vitality Stadium a week today (7pm kick-off).
Connell added: “I have said previously about people stepping up with certain players we’ve got missing at the moment for different reasons.
“The ones who have come in are taking their opportunities and the whole group are driving each other on. I feel we’re heading in the right direction for the important period we’re in and have coming up.
“Our goal difference is very good so it would take a miracle for something to go wrong from a winning-the-league perspective.
“But, ultimately, my job is to make sure the individuals within the team are improving within the team framework and I feel they are.
“Cardiff is going to be a big test. I know we’re at home but we will go in as underdogs. They are a good category two academy so we’ll have to be at our absolute best in that game.
“We’re on a good run, we’ve got players in good form and one or two are returning from injury which will give everyone a lift so we’re in a good place.
“But we have to keep moving forward. We will analyse and reflect on today but we have to want more.”
Williams, who joined the Cherries at the start of this season following his release by Fulham, opened the floodgates when he kept his composure and finished coolly after being put through by Pollock.
Eoin Teggart went close to equalising for Portsmouth before Cherries goalkeeper Billy Terrell pulled off a smart save to tip Ethan Robb’s header over the crossbar.
Although Taylor Seymour saved with his legs from Pollock, the Portsmouth goalkeeper was powerless to prevent the Cherries striker doubling their lead when he latched on to Ben Greenwood’s precision centre after 21 minutes.
ASSIST KING: Ben Greenwood set up three goals against Portsmouth
And after Terrell had denied Alfie Stanley with another good save, Genesini confidently despatched a penalty after Williams had been felled by Robb in the 29th minute.
Pardoe got on the end of another superb cross from Greenwood to make it 4-0 before Williams, who had missed a glorious chance to score in the 15th minute, atoned with interest when he netted following a dazzling run which left a couple of Portsmouth defenders trailing in his wake.
Oliver netted the loose ball after Pollock’s shot had been saved to make it 6-0 before Genesini crossed for Jack Wadham to complete the first-half scoring.
Just two minutes after the restart, Genesini again supplied the assist for Williams to complete his hat-trick, the lively frontman rifling his shot into the roof of the net.
Portsmouth were rewarded for sticking to their task when substitute Harry Anderson beat Terrell with a scorpion kick following a corner before Greenwood brought up his hat-trick of assists by feeding Pollock, the striker’s venomous effort whistling into the back of the net after 64 minutes.
Cherries: Terrell, Genesini, Greenwood, Wadham (Burgess, 68), Channell (Roberts, 50), Seddon, Pardoe (Adams, 61), Gray, Pollock, Williams, Oliver.