Blues impress outgoing boss but Leeds take the points

Gemma Hillier, right, gets a hug from Kirsty McGee. Picture: Barry Zee
Gemma Hillier, right, gets a hug from Kirsty McGee. Picture: Barry Zee
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett has been looking for the right blend of youth and experience. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss bidding for right blend

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Vanessa Raynbird’s final home match in charge of Pompey Ladies ended in a 2-1 defeat to Leeds at Hayling’s College Ground.

Captain Gemma Hillier was on the mark for the Blues late on in the match.

But her goal proved only a consolation as two first-half strikes from Emma Coates earned Leeds the win.

It was a thrilling contest as Pompey defied their league position – stranded second bottom in the FA Premier League national division.

Leeds had to grind out the victory and need a point from their final match against champions Sunderland next weekend to secure the runners-up spot.

Blues boss Raynbird, who is switching to a director of football role at the end of the season, was impressed with the way her side went about the task.

She said: ‘We were up against a team at the other end of the table.

‘But watching the match, you would not know the difference between the teams.

‘A draw would have been a fair result.

‘It’s a shame we could not get something out of it.

‘We powered on at the end. We looked a bit stronger and much fitter than them.

‘They were down on their haunches.

‘It has been frustrating because we have lost matches by the odd goal.

‘The girls are putting in so much work and the way they approach games is phenomenal.’

Pompey came flying out of the traps and midfielder Lindsey Roe struck a rising drive over the crossbar.

Leeds opened the scoring on 20 minutes, though.

Blues defender Jade Kirby was beaten for pace on the flank and the ball was pulled back for Coates, who finished in style.

Leeds strengthened their grip on the contest in first-half injury-time.

Coates beat the Pompey defence and poked the ball beyond keeper Sadie Blakeley into the net.

Both goals were a cause of frustration for Raynbird.

She said: ‘We had a game plan and knew what they were capable of doing.

‘It was something we worked on but they beat us with a couple of things we knew they were capable of.

‘Our defensive line was not as quick as their attacking force.

‘They beat us for pace on many occasions.’

To their credit, Pompey surged back in the second half.

Shelly Cox headed against the post and Kirsty McGee saw her low drive also strike the woodwork.

Hillier burst clear to dink the ball over the keeper and reduce the deficit on 87 minutes.

It wasn’t enough for the Blues, though, as they ran out of time in the quest for an equaliser.

They finish the season at Coventry on Sunday.