Newport County's battling youngsters narrowly lost to Portsmouth's academy last night and Exiles skipper Josh Dupres declared: "They are what we aspire to become."

The 18-year-old defender praised his side's work ethic and commitment as they gave Premiership new boys Portsmouth's budding young stars a run for their money.

And Pompey's 1-0 victory came thanks to a first-half penalty from impressive winger Liam Hurstead after James Keene was tripped by Neil Passmore in the penalty box.

Dupres, a Welsh Schools international, insisted Newport's promising talent faired very well against more prestigious opposition.

"It was a superb experience for the lads," said Dupres, who played at right-back.

"The game was played at a very high tempo and I thought we matched them in a lot of areas of our play.

"But we all need to play like that every time we go out on the football pitch, we have set our standards very high.

"They are a Premiership side's academy and are the benchmark for us."

And it didn't escape Dupres' notice that County's first-team chief Peter Nicholas braved the torrential downpours to check-out for himself the young promise rolling off the County production line.

"A few of the youth team will be gunning for a first-team place this season and I class myself as one of them," said Dupres.

Nicholas would have been impressed with County academy striker Sam O'Sullivan who was more than a handful for Portsmouth's well-organised defence.

His movement, pace and sharpness gave them major headaches and he should have scored within the opening 31 seconds but blazed his ten-yard drive wide.

Lloyd Stone and Shaun O'Brien are also first-team hopefuls and battled well in the centre of defence against a sprightly Pompey front-line, who, in truth, should have scored more than just the one.

Ashley Williams was solid in the centre of midfield alongside Nathan Manley but left-winger Chris Rogers, another teenager vying for a spot in Nicholas' team, had a quiet game.

"It was a very hard game and a great workout for the boys," said youth team manager Roger Skyrme.

Newport County: R Idzi, J Dupres (c), N Passmore, L Stone, S O'Brien, T Hooper (A Trow, 75), A Williams, N Manley, A Gittings (M Power, 60), S O'Sullivan (S Chapple, 81), C Rogers (G Murphy, 84)

Portsmouth: A Hard, C Angus, J Higgins (G Silk, 82), J Roach, R Hughes, M Day, M Wilson (T Settle, 72), S Harris, C Swain, J Keene, L Hurstead.