Rocks striker Brad Lethbridge led from the front as Pompey Academy advanced into the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a comprehensive 5-2 win over Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park.
Lethbridge fired in the double for the young Blues, while Leon Maloney, Haji Mnoga and Alfie Stanley were also on target. It was a thoroughly deserved victory for Mark Kelly’s side, although they may have been slightly disappointed with the goals they conceded.
Pompey made a dream start and were in front on seven minutes. Lethbridge's shot was charged down by Rovers keeper Graeme Anderson but the ball fell to James Whiting inside the penalty area. The Blues midfielder was hacked down by Scott Isherwood, with the referee instantly pointing to the spot.
Maloney stepped up and coolly sent Anderson the wrong way to give Kelly’s side the lead. Yet their advantage was short-lived and the Pirates were level two minutes later. Zain Walker worked the ball to Harry Warwick and he neatly finished beyond home stopper Leon Pitman from an acute angle.
Pompey didn't let their heads drop, though, and move in front on 16 minutes. Freddie Read’s deep free-kick was met by the towering Mnoga who headed powerfully past Anderson.
The Blues continued to press their foot on the gas, with Lethbridge failing to hit the target from close range when he met Harry Kavanagh’s cross at the back post in the 25th minute. But the forward, who has netted seven goals on loan at Bognor this season, increased the hosts’ advantage seven minutes later. Lethbridge charged down Anderson’s clearance before outmuscling Rovers keeping and tapping into an empty net.
However, the Pirates again hit back swiftly, with Warwick grabbing his second of the game in the 39th minute. Lewis Clutton’s sumptuous through ball picked out Walker and his shot beat Pitman before Walker made sure the ball went in on the line.
The visitors had the first effort on goal five minutes into the second half but Tom Mehew’s free-kick sailed over the bar. Josh Flint went close to regaining Pompey’s two-goal lead in the 59th minute but the Waterlooville ace’s looping header was hooked off the line by Isherwood.
However, three minutes later the home side soon extended their advantage when Lethbridge grabbed his second of the game. Following a neat one-two with Alfie Stanley, the second-year scholar slotted a left-footed finish into the far corner.
After registering an assist within a minute of coming on, Stanley was then on the scoresheet on 66 minutes. The striker deftly headed home Read’s corner at the near post to put the tie to bed.
Pompey continued to dominate but couldn’t extend their advantage further. Nevertheless, it was a resounding win from Kelly’s fledgling talents and safely moved into the second round of the competition.
Pompey: Pitman; Kavanagh, Monoga, Robb, Hancott (Kelly 46); Read, Whiting, Bridgman (Bell 87); Maloney, Lethbridge, Flint (Stanley 61)
Rocks told - We can't go on like this