Molly Clark scored the crucial opening goal as Pompey Ladies beat gutsy Basingstoke Town 2-0 in the Hampshire FA Challenge Cup final at Westleigh Park last night.
The talented Blues midfielder was also named player of the match, while striker Emma Sherwood netted the second on a tough night when Perry Northeast’s team had to really work hard to retain their trophy.
Basingstoke fought throughout the 90 minutes and were very well organised and strong.
Northeast was pleased for Clark, who has been a great player for Pompey Ladies for many seasons.
Her goal on 48 minutes was a lovely whipped in delivery from the left flank that evaded everyone in the box and nestled in the far corner.
Sherwood’s strike was an opportunistic effort in the box – a typical centre-forward’s finish to settle the match on 72 minutes.
The cup win will lift everyone at the club after the disappointment of missing out in their quest to retain their league title recently.
Northeast said: ‘It will put a bit of a smile back on everybody’s face.
‘And it is great for Molly Clark to get player of the match.
‘She is a player that doesn’t always get the recognition that others do as such.
‘Molly has really worked hard for this club for many years and for her on a personal level that is a nice touch to be recognised for the effort she puts in.’
After being held at bay in the first half the Blues were quickly ahead following the restart.
Clark curled the ball into the net from out wide on the left flank.
It was a quality ball in from the midfielder and ultimately didn’t need a touch at the far post.
Striker Sherwood put any doubts to bed with the second goal, when she reacted quickest in the area to latch on to the ball after Tash Stephens had broken clear of the defence from Ellie Bloomfield’s chipped pass.
It was an emphatic finish from the striker to seal victory.
Basingstoke kept working hard and there was no sign of a collapse as they stuck to their task to deny the Blues any more goals.
‘Basingstoke really gave us a tricky tie, particularly in the first half,’ added Northeast.
‘The questions I posed at half-time were perhaps more on the physical side of the game.
‘Were players willing to be able to put their foot in where it hurts and win the ball back quick enough.
‘They did that in the second half and the goals followed.
‘But Basingstoke were certainly tough. Right up until the 90th minute they weren’t willing to give up a pass or give anything away. Credit to them for that.’
Pompey Ladies host Forest Green Rovers in the league on Sunday.