Rovers exit the Youth Cup
October 25, 2018
Portsmouth took an early lead from the penalty spot after Scott Isherwood brought a man down in the box, but Rovers replied immediately though a smart volley from Harry Warwick.
Not soon after Pompey were back in front and then increased their lead further to 3-1, before Rovers clawed one back through the same man, Warwick to go into the half just one behind.
However, the hosts came out in the second half and added to their lead and ran out of sight with two more goals, as the Rovers youngster were knocked out of the competition.
Rovers XI: Graeme Anderson (GK), Scott Isherwood, Levi Paul (Kinsly Murray, 70′), Tom Mehew (c), Osian Dillon, Jamie Bremner, Mason Raymond (Sam Heal, 70′), Lewis Clutton (George Fowler, 81′), Harry Warwick, Ollie Hulbert, Zain Walker.
Unused Subs: Harry Thomas-Barker (GK), Luc Noble, Joe Budd, Josh Bailey.
Pompey XI: Leon Pitman (GK), Harry Kavanagh, Joe Hancott (Liam Kelly, 45′) , Stan Bridgman (Charlie Bell, 88′), Haji Mnoga, Leon Maloney, Freddie Read (c), Bradley Lethbridge, Josh Flint (Alfie Stanley, 63′), James Whiting, Ethan Robb.
Unused Subs: Harrison Brook, Tom Bruce.
The opening 10 minutes certainly weren’t short of action and Pompey’s Leon Maloney almost profited early on from Levi Paul’s soft back pass to go through but Jamie Bremner saved his teammate with a superb sliding challenge.
Not long after that and the hosts had a penalty, with Isherwood on the stretch bringing down James Whiting in the area – Maloney stepped up to fire Portsmouth into an early lead.
However the reply from Rovers was almost instant, with Under-18s goal machine Warwick adding to his already expansive tally when he latched onto Zain Walker’s back post cross to fire a neat volley beyond the keeper.
Sadly Pompey’s lead was soon restored, when Haji Mnoga rose highest in the penalty box to meet Freddie Read’s free kick delivery at the back post and head past Graeme Anderson.
From that goal, Portsmouth seemed galvanised and were placing Rovers under some significant pressure, most notably when Bradley Lethbridge met Harry Kavanagh’s cross at the back post and only just missed the target.
Their ascendancy soon paid dividends for the hosts, when Lethbridge charged down Anderson’s clearance and the ball bounced towards goal before the frontman beat the Rovers stopper for pace to help himself to a tap in.
Despite being on the back foot, just over five minutes from the break Rovers pulled a goal back and did so in excellent fashion.
Lewis Clutton snatched the ball in midfield, looked up and played in the lightning-quick Walker with a pinpoint ball, the winger went one-on-one and more or less beat the keeper who got a hand to his shot, but Warwick was alert to make sure and sweep the ball home.
Now on a hat-trick, Warwick continued to make himself a pain for the Pompey defence and did so again when he raced down the right flank, beyond his man and into the box before cutting the ball back, however there was no one there to meet his pass as Rovers went into the interval a goal behind.
The ten opening minutes of this half were far less frantic than the one before it, but Rovers did seem to have a larger share of possession and were earning territory in their opponent’s third.
Rovers looked threatening on the break all evening, particularly for their second goal and Walker’s pace caused further problems as he raced past his man down the left before beating another as he cut inside but his shot was blocked.
Whilst Rovers looked strong on the break, Pompey did so in the air and Josh Flint almost looped a header over Anderson and into the net but for Isherwood being alert to dig the ball out from under the bar.
Despite their decent start to the second period, the hosts recovered their two-goal lead just past the hour mark as Lethbridge fired an impressive finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for his second of the game.
Ollie Hulbert had half a chance a few moments later after Clutton’s cross dropped kindly to him close in but his shot was charged down quickly by a defender.
Up the other end, Anderson was called into action to make a great save to deny Maloney who had gone through on goal however the resulting corner, could not be kept out.
It was swung into the near post by Read and glanced home by substitute Alfie Stanley.
As we entered the final 20 minutes, Rovers made a double switch, bringing on Kinsly Murray and Sam Heal in place of Paul and Mayson Raymond.
Lethridge was proving a handful and carried to the ball strongly once again before demanding another firm stop from Anderson with a low drive from the edge of the box.
Shortly after that, Tom Parrinello and Lee Mansell made their final sub, as they brought on George Fowler for Clutton.
Anderson’s night was still not over as he produced his best save of the night, leaping to his left to tip over a sweetly hit volley from Liam Kelly.
Pompey still appeared to be threatening forward and could’ve had a sixth if not a superb goal-saving block by Isherwood as the full-back threw himself across a Pompey shot.
Substitute goalscorer Stanley had once more chance to find his brace and Pompey’s sixth, but fluffed his lines close in as the score finished 5-2.