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Under-18s Report | Portsmouth 2 Argyle 3

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Argyle’s Under 18s secured a stunning comeback win against Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon in the Youth Alliance League.

Tegan Finn scored the winner in the third minute of second-half stoppage time with a clever finish from close range.

This came after Jensen Ireland equalised just four minutes prior from a corner and Joe Hatch registered his third league goal of the season when he brought Argyle back into a game midway through the second-half, the Greens having fallen two goals behind to Pompey. 

Argyle manager Jamie Lowry made three changes to the starting line-up that drew 0-0 with Bristol Rovers last weekend.

Jack Matthews replaced Toby Haley allowing Lewis Colwell to play in his more natural right-back role. Caleb Roberts slotted into a three-man midfield alongside Josh Bernard and Finn Wilkes, with Cole Fisher dropping out.

Freddie Issaka returned to the Under-18s this week after featuring for the first team away at Leeds United the week prior. He replaced another absentee, Kieran Edworthy.

The game started quickly with both teams creating half-chances early on in the first-half. Portsmouth’s Jayden Keteku had a header deflected wide in the first minute and Joe Hatch saw a close-range effort well-saved by Bastion Smith’s legs.

Portsmouth opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Koby Mottoh curled an effort into the top-left corner from 25-yards out. There was little that could be done to prevent this moment of magic from the Pompey winger.

The Greens pushed to get level throughout the rest of the first-half. Issaka had the best of the chances when, after clever play between Finn and Roberts, he was found with a cut-back just inside the penalty area. He was under pressure, and this perhaps gives reason as to why his effort was unable to find the back of the net, flying wide.

Half-time came and Lowry’s side may have felt slightly disheartened to be a goal down at the break, with both teams seeming pretty equal and the goal that separated them being a moment of individual brilliance.

The Young Pilgrims started the second half as they meant to go on with Issaka breezing past defenders and breaking into the box from the left wing. It took a third defender to come across and block his cross that seemed likely to set up a sure goal to snub the move.

Argyle had another good chance early in the second-half when an inswinging corner from Roberts found Harry Shield inside the box, his header blocked on the line by a Portsmouth defender.

However, against the run of play, Argyle found themselves two goals down on 66 minutes.

It was Mottoh who doubled both his side’s lead and his personal tally for the afternoon. This came after an excellent delivery from the right flank left Mottoh a simple header to make it 2-0.

Lowry’s side showed great resilience to keep pushing and they got a goal back just three minutes after going two behind.

The goal came a free-kick after Roberts used the wind to whip a wicked cross onto the head of Hatch. All he had to do was head the ball over the goalkeeper who had come flying off his line, and could do nothing to stop Argyle halving the deficit. 

With the game now once again close - and the Greens having the wind in their sails - Portsmouth dug in and defended well to try to hang on to their lead.

They did this well for 20 minutes; however, it would be a corner that unlocked them and got Argyle level in the 89th minute.

Bernard had gone out to the left to take this one, taking over from the usual taker Roberts, and whipped in a cracker. Ireland rose the highest, headed the ball into the ground and up into the back of the net, an excellent header leaving the keeper no chance.

With time still left on the clock, Argyle kept pushing to find the winner and a crucial three points that would certainly make it a game to remember.

The moment came in the 93rd minute when Finn started the move with a darting run inside from the left flank. He knocked the ball to playmaker Roberts who attempted a chipped ball in behind the defence to unleash Hatch. The ball did not quite have enough on it to find Hatch, but the Portsmouth defender’s headed clearance hit the back of the head of his team-mate, allowing Finn, who had continued his run, to pick up the pieces.

Finn latched onto the bouncing ball and stabbed it towards goal with his left foot from a tight angle. His effort beat the keeper and nestled into the bottom-left corner as the whole team wheeled away in celebration.

With such a late goal, Portsmouth had no chance to spoil the party and the referee blew the whistle to signal full-time just moments later.

This result marked three league games unbeaten for Lowry’s side and a league double complete over rivals Portsmouth.

The Young Greens will be looking to continue a strong start to their PDL Cup campaign, with a group-stage game against Swansea City next Saturday kicking off a run of several cup fixtures. 

Argyle: Dan Holman, Lewis Colwell, Harry Shield, Fin Wilkes, Jack Matthews, Jensen Ireland, Josh Bernard, Caleb Roberts, Joe Hatch, Tegan Finn, Freddie Issaka. Substitutes not used: Toby Haley, Sam Lord, Kian Burch.

Christmas at home park