Last-gasp rally can’t save City

Victoria Harfield Picture: Mick Young
Victoria Harfield Picture: Mick Young
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A late rally by City of Portsmouth’s ladies came up agonisingly short as they suffered relegation from UK Women’s League division two.

A fourth-place finish from their final league match of the season at the Mountbatten Centre on Sunday produced some sterling performances from the battling outfit.

However, City’s struggles to put out their strongest line-up in the two previous matches came back to haunt them as their last-day efforts proved in vain.

Their relegation to division three, alongside Herne Hill Harriers, was confirmed after an action-packed afternoon on the south coast.

That left many disappointed faces in the team ranks, but team captain Sam Vaile praised the commitment of everyone involved in the battle to stave off relegation.

‘It’s a disappointing end, considering we had our strongest squad of the season out on Sunday,’ said Vaile.

‘We rallied round, there was a good team spirit, we got everyone down – even some who were feeling a bit poorly – but other teams were just better than us on the day and stronger over the season.

‘It’s very frustrating but we just don’t have enough seniors to fill the gaps at the moment.

‘We rely an awful lot on the younger ones and the veterans, but the youngsters have got to be 18 or above and we just don’t have that depth at the moment.

‘Hopefully, the youngsters will come through, though.

‘And having meetings like this in Portsmouth we can show them what can be done.’

Among those who helped City’s unsuccessful cause in the battle for much-needed points was Victoria Harfield, who claimed second-place finishes in the 400m B (61.3sec) and long jump (5m 51cm).

Harfield’s 400m efforts smashed her previous personal best, while the 31-year-old maintained her form by helping the team’s 4x100m relay team (Vaile, Hollie Fudge, Mandy Gault) claim a maximum haul.

Gault also impressed on home soil – winning the 200m in a new PB of 24.4, and claiming second in the 400m with a season’s best time of 54.7.

Third-placed finished from Suzi Wise (43.38 hammer), Claudia Cubbage (2.30 pole vault) and Claire Netley (66.7 400m hurdles) also boosted City’s points tally, while Sian Hawkes’ efforts in the 800m (2.40.4), 1,500m (5.32.3) and 3,000m (11.34.8) earned many plaudits.

However, these and the team’s overall efforts were not enough as City head for division three next season.