AFC Portchester bid for Portsmouth FA Women’s Cup sensation against Pompey at Westleigh Park
AFC Portchester bid for a women’s football sensation on Wednesday night when they take on Pompey in the semi-final of the Portsmouth & District Women’s Senior Cup.
The Royals squad - managed by Mark Dugan - have just won the Hampshire Women’s League Division 3 title at the first attempt.
The side was only put together last summer, but proceeded to win all eight of their league games.
A recent 3-1 victory over nearest challengers Varsity - Bella Longyear, Tara-Jayne Hewitt and Ella Wilson on target - saw Portchester concede their only goal of the entire 2020/21 season so far.
In addition to their league wins, the Royals also caned Bedhampton Village 10-0 in their only PDFA Women’s Cup tie prior to the December lockdown.
But Dugan knows his squad won’t have been tested like they will be in the last-four showdown at Hawks’ Westleigh Park.
Pompey, who play in the third tier of the women’s pyramid - some six divisions above Portchester - are fresh from winning the Hampshire FA Senior Women’s Cup last midweek against Southampton.
Dugan said: ‘We won’t be parking the bus like some teams do, we’ll give it a go.’
Blues boss Jay Sadler will use the cup semi-final to provide players in his squad with some much-needed minutes.
He plans to field some of the club's Hampshire League development team players and also those who failed to get minutes since the resumption of non-elite football in March.
Sadler said: 'We’ll be going into the game with the utmost respect for the competition and Portchester.
‘They’re in Hampshire Division 3 but they’re top of the league.
‘We see this as an opportunity to promote some of our younger players, give them an opportunity in the first team, and also to rotate the squad and give players minutes who might not have achieved minutes over the previous games - especially against Southampton.
'Players like Eilidh Currie, Laura Ingram, Abi Mason - they were players who weren’t started or didn’t come on, so this provides an opportunity for them to get minutes.
‘We’ve got a 16-player squad that we’re going to utilise again and rotate around, change up.
‘But, again, treat Portchester with respect. It’s still going to be a strong team, we’re still going to have some good players in the squad and the players available to come off the bench are going to be strong players.'
Bizarrely, Pompey have already lifted the Portsmouth Divisional FA Cup this season.
They beat Southern Regional League side Moneyfields 4-1 in the delayed 2019-20 season final at Baffins Milton Rovers FC last October.
But now they have the chance to lift the silverware again this season, with Moneys - who had a bye in the last four - waiting in the final at Westleigh Park on Thursday, June 3.