With one week down – LFE’s Gavin Willacy reflects on Portsmouth Under 18’s opening two games of their Dutch tour.
FC Twente 3 – 0 Portsmouth
A young Portsmouth team were well-beaten by an older Twente side on 3G at their excellent Hengelo training ground last Wednesday, writes Willacy,
While the final score suggests an easy win for the hosts, Pompey’s young players could look back proudly on a competitive second half performance. Trailing 3-0 after 24 minutes – they could’ve folded but instead applied their own game plan after the break.
Twente took a grip of the game with just 10 minutes on the clock with striker Ruben De Jager opening the scoring. The side from Enschende doubled their advantage 7 minutes later through Mattheus de Wil’sw 25-yard thunderbolt and with Pompey over-run in midfield things went from bad to worse when Alesso Da Cruz latched onto a long ball to nake it 3-0 after 24 minutes.
The final blow before half-time came when midfielder James Granger had to come off with a head knock, replaced by Adam May.
Twente coach Bert Konterman, the former Holland international and ex Twente and Feyenoord player, opted to change his whole XI at half-time while Pompey boss Mikey Harris, working with just a dozen fit players, rotated his team throughout a much-improved second period for Portsmouth.
Striker Liam Sayers escaped down the right but substitute Kaleem Haitham was unable to convert his outstanding cross. With the Snorre Nilsen, who had switched from his normal central defensive position into a midfield role impressing, Sayers got in behind the Twente left-back again to cross however Haitham’s far post header was smothered. Then defender Brandon Haunstrup, up for a free-kick, had his goalbound shot blocked at close range.
Ten minutes later Gill was through one on one but his first touch was too heavy and the keeper tidied up, and from a corner Twente failed to clear, the ball was turned back into the six yard box only for Sayers to head the ball over from a couple of feet out.
As Pompey tired, Twente had two more chances to get a fourth goal within a minute. With five minutes remaining, keeper Alex Bass superbly parried away a fierce drive from the lively Jari Riem and then blocked Delano Grootenhaus at the near post seconds later.
Vitesse Arnhem 1 – 2 Portsmouth
Portsmouth bounced back from their defeat against Twente to register their first win of the LFE Tour on Saturday.
Lewis Gill’s long range strike secured victory over Vitesse in a match that was played in soaring heat at Papendal. Despite dominating in the first period the side from Hampshire struggled to turn openings into goals, and needed to battle in a competitive second half to clinch the win.
Pompey made the worst possible start when, following a series of free-kicks given against them, Giovanni Scharrenberg curled a 25 yard free-kick past Alex Bass to give Vitesse the lead after just five minutes.
Mikey Harris’s team hit-back though creating a flurry of chances. Striker Gill put Conor Chaplin though on the goalkeeper but his shot was parried by the pink-clad Vitesse keeper Stef Brummel and left-back Brandon Haunstrup’s follow-up cannoned back off the bar.
Seconds later Gill side-footed a great close-range chance wide after left winger Sayers sent Haunstrup on an overlap down the flank. Then the dangerous Chaplin stylishly brought a through ball down on his left instep only to fire his shot over the bar.
It was all Portsmouth and they got what they deserved on 35 minutes following a break for drinks in the draining heat. When right winger Haitham was upended in the penalty area, Chaplin fired home from the spot.
It should have been 2-1 to Pompey before the break when Sayers dribbled into a goal scoring position only to shoot straight at the keeper.
Substitute’s Fahad Rwakarmbwe and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain were introduced at the interval as both teams searched for a winner.
And it came courtesy of Gill in the 73rd minute with a coruscating effort from 25-yards-out which found the top right-hand corner of Brummel’s goal.
As the game entered the final stages Portsmouth’s fitness showed – they have trained for a month while Vitesse have only been back one week – and they looked likely to score a third in the closing stages. Chaplin bent a free kick inches over the bar and midfielder James May headed wide.
There was one last threat for Bass to deal with, palming away free kick that was heading for his top corner, securing a deserved victory for the Englishmen against a technically impressive and tenacious young Vitesse side.