Our U18 side fell to a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth at Lliswerry School, with Mark Kelly’s side snatching all three points in added time on December 9th, 2017.
A single goal from Bradley Lethbridge sealed the win for Pompey, despite County having many chances beforehand and winger Tom Hillman hit the post with 64 minutes played.
County started the game strongly, with Lewis Collins seeing an early shot saved by Portsmouth ‘keeper Jack Collins in the 5th minute. Liam Bishop also had a few good chances early on, but the forward couldn’t beat Jack Collins, who was in inspired form.
Defender Joe Hunt made a brilliant challenge in the 14th minute to stop Leon Maloney from breaking the deadlock for Pompey, with County’s Josh Williams then pulling out a superb strike from 30 yards-out, but Portsmouth keeper Collins made another brilliant save, parrying Williams’ thunderous shot out for a corner.
County ‘keeper Matt Mayor hadn’t had much to do in the first 20 minutes, but he had to make a superb catch from a Portsmouth cross, with the box crowded full of County and Portsmouth players in the 21st minute. Mayor then produced another piece of excellent goalkeeping, making a brilliant save to his left, preventing a Portsmouth header from finding the back of the net.
Lewis Collins saw his overhead kick go just over the bar with 25 minutes played as the Young Exiles stepped up their search for the opening goal of the match.
The away side had a free-kick in the 37th minute, but Jordan Brooks blasted his effort well over Mayor’s goal.
Byron Anthony’s side ended the first-half much stronger, and Liam Bishop, who had been excellent throughout the half, had a shot inside of the box on his right foot which narrowly went over the crossbar with 43 minutes gone, meaning County went into the break level.
After the restart, several fouls made the game extremely difficult for both teams, with no real chances able to be created in the opening five minutes of the second-half.
Pompey yet again managed to survive a series of attacks, with Lewis Collins’ powerful strike heading into the top left-corner of the goal, before Jack Collins made another great save to keep the scores level.
County continued to keep the pressure on the visitors, Lewis Collins rounded Jack Collins, with his shot being blocked on the line in mid-air, after Pompey defender Mnoga made a world-class acrobatic clearance to clear the ball away in the 55th minute – with the defender getting injured in the process, but after treatment he returned into the action at Lliswerry School.
Michael Cook saw his near-post volley saved a minute later by Collins, who just couldn’t be beaten in the Portsmouth goal.
Mark Kelly made his first substitution on the hour mark, with Harry Kavanagh making way for Ethan Robb.
Five minutes later, the visitors found themselves under pressure again, with Liam Bishop having a shot saved from close-range before Tom Hillman’s rebound from a tight-angle smashed against the post in the 65th minute.
Byron Anthony made County’s first substitution of the game, with Michael Cook being replaced by Owura Edwards with 71 minutes played as the Young Exiles looked to break the deadlock.
Liam Warman came on for forward Liam Bishop in the 79th minute, with the hosts continuing to push for an all-important goal.
Jack Collins thwarted yet another chance by Lewis Collins, with the keeper making a brilliant stop in the 89th minute before the referee indicated that two additional minutes would be played at Lliswerry School.
In the 91st minute, a series of collective errors made by the Young Exiles allowed Portsmouth to find themselves one-on-one with Matt Mayor, who rushed out of his goal to prevent a Portsmouth goal, despite this, a poor clearance from Tom Savigar gifted Pompey forward Bradley Lethbridge a massive chance, with an open goal in front of him. The striker calmly finished into an empty net, leaving County bitterly disappointed at Lliswerry School, after having many major chances to take the lead.
The referee then called an end to proceedings at Lliswerry School, with the Young Exiles still yet to beat Portsmouth this season after a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat to Mark Kelly’s team.
Next up for the Young Exiles is an away clash with Cheltenham Town – Who currently sit bottom of the Youth Alliance South.
County Starting XI: Mayor, Jay Williams, Hunt, Josh Williams, Murray, Savigar, Collins, Press (c), Bishop (Warman 79’), Cook (Edwards 71’), Hillman.
Subs Not Used: Jay Williams Jnr, Ryan George, Owen Taylor.
Portsmouth Starting XI: Collins, Mnoga, Danny, Lethbridge, Kavanagh (Robb 60’), Flint, Brooks (c), Read, Whiting, Johnson, Maloney.
Subs Not Used: Stanley, Bridgeman.