Pompey LADIES were given an FA Women’s Premier League national division baptism of fire against reigning champions Sunderland on Sunday.
Vanessa Raynbird’s side went down to a 4-1 loss to the Black Cats at Dover Road on their top-flight bow.
But that failed to tell the story of a clash where Pompey pushed the big guns hard for long periods.
The visitors didn’t make the breakthrough until just before the hour mark.
That opened the floodgates for a frenetic period of goals as the visitors showed their cutting edge.
Pompey could take heart from the standard of their display, however.
And Raynbird’s side showed they can be competitive at this level in the coming months.
She said: ‘It was a really good performance from us.
‘The result was very, very flattering for Sunderland.
‘We definitely didn’t deserve a 4-1 defeat.
‘It was 0-0 until around the hour-mark minute when they scored a blistering goal from 25 yards out.
‘They got another one quite quickly, which was a bit sloppy from us.
‘We then pulled it back to 2-1 within the space of about five minutes.
‘And at 2-1 we were in it and looking like we could score again.
‘But when they got their third, that was it really.
‘We played some lovely football but Sunderland scored two blinding goals.
‘There were plenty of positives to take from the game. They have won the league twice and we will definitely play lesser teams than them.’
Pompey started the game much the brighter side and took charge of the opening exchanges.
Charley Wilson’s effort was well saved following Leeta Rutherford’s corner in the blistering heat.
The visitors gained a foothold as the half went on but there was no score before the break.
Shelly Cox’s shot was saved after the restart before Wilson’s hit the upright from a tight angle.
Vicky Greenwell broke the deadlock before the hour mark and Sophie Williams doubled their advantage minutes later.
Wilson then pulled a goal back after 71 minutes following some tidy one-touch passing which carved open the champions’ defence.
Beth Mead grabbed a third for Sunderland with 15 minutes left before Kelly McDougal’s fourth with seven minutes to go gave a scoreline which was unfair on the gutsy home side.
There were compliments for Pompey after the game, which made gladdening hearing for the side.
Raynbird said: ‘Their manager said we were a good side and was very complimentary about us, also saying we will win games at this level, which was nice to hear.’