Royals conquer Ladies in cup opener

Gemma Hillier. Picture: Mick Young (122159-14)
Gemma Hillier. Picture: Mick Young (122159-14)
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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A second-half fightback couldn’t stop Pompey Ladies slipping to defeat in the Women’s Premier League Cup against Reading.

Gemma Hillier’s second-half strike was not enough as Vanessa Raynbird’s side went down to a 2-1 loss at Dover Road.

Pompey threw everything at the Royals after the break but the visitors held on to take the win.

Two goals from Fran Kirby gave the Blues a mountain to climb before the interval.

But they laid siege to the visitors after the restart in a tale of two halves.

It looked as though the comeback was on when Hillier bagged her strike after 55 minutes.

But despite racking up the chances Pompey couldn’t force home the second goal they needed.

Raynbird admitted her side only had themselves to blame after not performing in the first half.

But she was at a loss to explain how the chances created did not result in more goals for her team.

Raynbird said: ‘We paid the price for a poor first-half performance.

‘We were 2-0 down at half-time – we just weren’t at the race up until that point.

‘They were the better side for most of the first half but we still had chances.

‘After the break we then stepped up a gear and dominated the game.

‘It sounds clichéd but if there ever was a game of two halves – this was it.

‘We still struggled to score in the second half but it wasn’t through lack of trying. We had five or six really good chances that went begging.

‘It was almost as if they had cling film over their goal – the ball just wouldn’t go in.

‘It looked like it would just be a matter of time after Gemma got us back in the game.

‘We thought we would go on and equalise then but it just wouldn’t happen.

‘We missed a number of chances, the best probably falling to Leeta Rutherford, who still won’t know how she missed.

‘There was one phase of play where we must have had four shots at goal but, in the end, we paid for that poor first half.’

Despite defeat, there’s still hope for Pompey.

The competition begins in a round-robin format, with the Blues still to tackle Cardiff and Yeovil.

Raynbird’s side return to league action with a trip to Manchester City in the Women’s Premier League national division on Sunday.

The Pompey manager believes a repeat of their second-half display in Sunday will reap dividends.

Raynbird said: ‘The league is our priority this season and we have a long away trip at Manchester City to prepare for now.

‘If we play like we did in the second half against Reading, we will be fine in the league this season.’