Pompey ensure Raynbird’s final match ends on high note

Lucy Quinn's last-gasp equaliser earned Pompey Ladies a 2-2 draw against Coventry and ensured boss Vanessa Raynbird's last match in charge wasn't a defeat
Lucy Quinn's last-gasp equaliser earned Pompey Ladies a 2-2 draw against Coventry and ensured boss Vanessa Raynbird's last match in charge wasn't a defeat
Pompey defender Brandon Haunstrup Picture: Joe Pepler

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It wasn’t quite the way outgoing manager Vanessa Raynbird would have scripted her final match in charge of Pompey Ladies.

But a 93rd-minute goal to snatch a 2-2 draw at Coventry was probably not a scenario she would have thrown back had it been offered beforehand.

Fittingly, it was a formation switch and substitution from Raynbird, at 2-1 down in the second half, that changed the FA Women’s Premier League national division game.

Winger Lucy Quinn came off the bench as the Blues went to three at the back and notched the late, late goal to spark celebrations.

Pompey had started the game well, with midfielder Leeta Rutherford netting the opener on four minutes.

That came after Raynbird was given a guard of honour before kick-off to mark the end of her 11th season in charge.

The Blues boss said: ‘The girls lined up at the start when I came out of the tunnel and I went down the middle.

‘It was a bit embarrassing but nice of them to think about it.

‘I got so many “thank yous” from the girls and that was nice. There was certainly a bit of a lump in the throat at times.’

Rutherford’s early strike was a neatly-taken finish.

Charley Wilson was inches away from doubling the lead with an overhead kick that was tipped over the bar.

But Coventry struck an equaliser against the run of play on 23 minutes.

Keeper Sadie Blakely, nursing a shoulder injury, and defender Kaylee Schumann-Edwards were caught out by a ball forward, leaving a simple tap-in for Nicole Dale to level.

The unfortunate Blakely was beaten again on 49 minutes.

She made a spectacular sprawling save to parry the ball out but took a whack on her shoulder in the process.

The quick reactions of Courtney Sweetman-Kirk were then rewarded as she slotted home the loose ball, before Blakely could recover.

That left Raynbird needing to work some magic.

She did so, switching Pompey to a back three, with Quinn thrown on and midfielder Lindsey Roe pushed into an attacking position behind the front two.

Coventry were then pinned back and the Blues eventually got their reward.

Quinn shifted the ball on to her right foot, on the edge of the box, and struck a sweet drive into the bottom corner.

‘To get the late goal ensured we ended the season not on a low note,’ said Raynbird.

‘It was a bit of a high, even though we didn’t get the win.

‘I was really pleased we got back into the game – the girls kept plugging away.’

Responsibility for first-team affairs now falls on Perry Northeast and Katie Poore who take charge.

Raynbird will be business manager next season as Pompey aim to win the southern division.

The Blues boss added: ‘I hope the team will progress under Perry and Katie.

‘It’s certainly not all doom and gloom after we missed out on the Super League.’