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Young U18s side beaten by Pompey


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

The under-18s lost their latest Merit League game 3-1 at home to Portsmouth, injuries continuing to give opportunities to a number of younger players as well as others stepping up from the under-16s squad.

Owen Palmer played the first half after being missing through injury in recent weeks, and in the tight opening period the visitors hit the front when Alfie Bridgeman smuggled home a shot at the near post.

Into the second period and Cherries 'keeper Joe Besant made a number of good stops before Harrison Brook doubled the lead with a low strike after shrugging off a defender.

Baylin Johnson headed home from a corner for his first youth team strike to set up a grandstand finish, Jake Adams firing over with a great chance to equalise before Harvey Rew scored at the other end to confirm Pompey's win.

After the match, under-18s manager Alan Connell spoke to afcb.co.uk to discuss his thoughts on the match.

"We expected a difficult game and we got it," he said, "we always have tough games against Portsmouth. I thought we looked a bit disjointed at times which I thought might happen with the amount of young players we had in the side and the lack of preparation with the young players in school during the week.

"In the first half when we moved the ball quickly and tried to implement what we wanted to do we looked like the team in control - without really creating too many chances.

"Then they got the goal that they wanted which meant they could sit in and make life difficult for us. 

"We were frustrated at half time because we couldn't find a way through and we were taking too many touches. We tried to rectify that at half time and had a response where we switched the play quite well and started to create more chances and openings.

"We just didn't quite have that clinical edge in the final third and that ultimately cost us, then when they went 2-0 up it was almost game over.

"The boys kept going, we made subs and tried to get back into the game, scoring through Baylin's first youth team goal. He's not even training at the moment, he's up in London at school, just playing on Saturdays for us. That goal will give him a lot of confidence.

"Then we had a big chance to go to 2-2 with ten minutes to go, from a lovely bit of play. If we'd scored that and drawn we'd have said we were up against an experienced youth team side with a lot of second year scholars and everyone would have been quite happy with the result, bearing in mind how young we were.

"We didn't take that chance, then they hit us with a sucker punch right at the end to go to 3-1.

"It was a good learning day, it's never nice to lose a game of football but you could see the physical difference and that they were a bit more streetwise than us, ultimately they had a bit too much for us.

"Looking on to next season when this group comes together properly on a day-to-day basis, there's a lot we need to work on but I'm hugely encouraged by the look of this youth team for next season."

Among the developing players getting minutes was Toure Williams, one of a number involved who Connell knows from his time working with the younger age groups at the club.

"A lot of the boys coming through are the boys I had with the under-12s four or five years ago, Toure Williams is a prime example of that," he said.

"He's a small technical midfielder who's also combative as well, he came on last week and also today, so we're just drip feeding him in ready for the start of pre-season, along with a lot of the other young boys.

"Some of them have played 90 minutes today and are almost going through a process at the moment, but come next season when the under-16s come into the youth team they will be better for that experience. 

"The first years like Ferdi Okoh, Marcus Daws and Owen Palmer, they'll already have experience of leading the younger ones. That's partly by design and partly because we've got so many injuries to the second years, but in the long term it's a really positive situation."

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