Derby agony for Portsmouth Women as they finally return to action in National League Cup tie against Southampton
Portsmouth Women suffered Hampshire derby disappointment in their first competitive game for exactly a month.
Jay Sadler’s side faced Southampton FC at Gosport’s Privett Park aiming to reach the semi-finals of the FA Women’s League Cup.
The tournament is the women’s equivalent of the EFL Trophy that Pompey’s men’s team are aiming to retain this season - for clubs in the third and fourth tiers.
But a lack of match sharpness no doubt contributed to a slow start which saw lower division Southampton net twice in the first half en route to a deserved 2-0 victory and a mammoth last four trip to Sunderland.
A raft of postponements had ensured Pompey had not played since exiting the Women’s FA Cup at Ipswich on January 5.
This tie was supposed to have been played last weekend but was the team’s 14th game of 2019/20 to be postponed due to the state of a pitch.
With their home ground of Baffins’ PMC Stadium experiencing seemingly endless drainage issues, Pompey switched the tie to Gosport - where they used to play prior to moving back to the city two years ago.
Southampton took a 16th minute lead when the impressive - and very fast - right-back Ella Morris sprinted onto a long ball, advanced into the home penalty area and unselfishly set up the unmarked Ella Pusey to easily score past keeper Hannah Haughton.
Pompey rarely threatened in the first half and fell further behind just before half-time when Pusey scampered through the middle to net her second.
Sadler made two half-time switches - bringing on Jade Widdows and Molly Clark for Becki Bath (suspected broken foot suffered in the build-up to the second goal) and skipper Amelia Southgate (tactical).
The changes worked, in that Pompey enjoyed a lot more possession in the second half.
The introduction of Widdows and Clark injected extra urgency into the home attacks, but visiting keeper Kayla Rendell was rarely tested.
Striker Charmaine True’s 20-yard effort dipped just over, Clark shot wide and from a free-kick on the edge of the box Jade Bradley fired a low shot straight into the defensive wall.
The nearest Pompey came was when Bradley’s effort clipped the top of the bar and Laura Ingram’s follow-up effort crashed against the woodwork.
At the other end, Morris burst clear down the right but her cross eluded everyone, while ex-Pompey striker Rachel Panting should have done better late on than to hit a tame shot straight at Haughton when given a clear sight of goal.
Sadler was honest enough to admit that the result was a fair one, and any neutral watching would no doubt have agreed.
Southampton were certainly the quicker side - certainly on the counter attack - and throughout the first half looked the side who had been playing more regularly in recent weeks.