Last night saw the return of Reserve Team football back in Portsmouth, which can only be a good thing for the city. With not just squad fitness and development at stake, it can do Pompey no harm in the city of football bid which could see the area earn £1.500,000.
Before yesterdays showdown with Peterborough United, we hadn’t seen a reserve team game played since 2010, where the financial collapse of the club meant pulling out of the league’s and dissolving the team to cut costs. But now with the future bright and the squad in healthy numbers, it is vital we look at giving some of the fringe players minutes in a competitive fixture. The likes of Patrick Agyemang, Johnny Ertl and Danny East who are all first team players, but not the first on the team sheet are given the chance to impress in a reserve league.
Another major positive is the mixture of youth players and senior stars. In the last four years there was no bridge for youth team players. Young players have been thrown straight into the first team, one minute they are playing against 16, 17 and 18 year olds, next up they are facing big burly centre-backs in their 30’s. Throwing talented young players straight into the deep end doesn’t work, Ashley Harris being a prime example.
Looking at the first reserve game, we saw five players who have never been involved in the first team take part. Whilst Conor Chaplin, who made an appearance off the bench against Stoke City replaced Miles Storey in the reserve match. Experienced heads in Patrick Agyemang, who captained the side are able to help educate the players on the pitch, something the coaches are restricted at doing. Michael Poke was also in goal getting a full 90 minutes under his belt, the goalkeeper hasn’t played yet this season as he plays second fiddle to Paul Jones.
It seems I’m not the only person who agrees with how important the Reserves are, with competitive fixtures for those waiting in the wings. I spoke to ex-Liverpool legend Joey Jones a few months ago who highlighted to me the importance of reserve football. Having won the European Cup and First Division double for the reds he spoke with passion how important such divisions as the old Football Combination leagues were. He’s a man who knows what he’s talking about as he currently coaches the Youth and Reserves at Wrexham.
Finally with goals from Storey, Barcham and Close in our midweek fixture means Pompey start as they mean to go on in the Final Third Development League. A division with sides such as Luton, Bournemouth and Peterborough. Some hard games will come up this season, a test so vital for the development of the club.