HEREFORD Academy Under-18s manager Dan Chance said his players showed they are capable of stepping up to the next level despite being beaten 5-1 by Portsmouth Academy.

In the first time the phoenix club's academy had reached the FA Youth Cup first round, they met a full-time Pompey side who clinically netted three second half goals.

In reply Rob Whitlock netted a fierce second half free-kick to deduce their deficit.

"We have got a good side and I thought we probably had a good chance of a cup run this year and we certainly managed that," said Chance.

"I think they showed that we can compete and the score-line didn't quite reflect the performances that we put in.

"In being full-time Portsmouth were fitter than us and well drilled as they are in training every day.

"We are in once a week, so it is harder. Our lads competed really well and showed they are capable of stepping up.

"I think for our lads they all want to play at the highest level they can and hopefully that is with Hereford.

"A couple of them have also played in the HFA County Challenge Cup and I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities for them to showcase their talents.

"Rob Whitlock got the goal at Portsmouth and we have got a few stand-out players.

"We have got a few of them training with the first team and quite a good balance between first and second year under-18s."

On route to the first round Hereford beat AFC Telford United, Stratford Town, Evesham United and AFC Stoneham.

Due to their FA Youth Cup heroics the young Bulls have only played three Midlands Floodlit Youth League games and will return to league action tomorrow night (Wednesday) against Halesowen Town.

They will also feature in the Midland Floodlit Youth League Cup and the HFA Giant Killers Cup.

Chance said that the Portsmouth experience was one for his young players to remember.

"It was a great experience for us and we wanted to make it as much as we could about the kids," he added.

"It was important they got a lot out of the day. For more of them it was the biggest game they have played in so far.

"I think when they probably reflect it was definitely a good experience and something they definitely enjoyed doing."