‘Fans, competition and our south coast rivals’ – Pompey Women skipper Jade Bradley excited for Hampshire Cup final against Southampton
Captain Jade Bradley believes there’s an added excitement ahead of Pompey Women’s latest south coast derby clash.
Jay Sadler’s side come up against Southampton FC for the right to be crowned winners of the delayed 2019-20 season Hampshire Women’s Senior Cup in front of supporters at Westleigh Park tonight (8pm).
It’s the first time Pompey, who are aiming to win the county cup title for a 12th consecutive season, have played competitively since they were removed from the FA Women’s Cup for fielding an ineligible player in a second round tie against Cheltenham Ladies last month.
The Blues have had several friendlies since then but Bradley stressed there is nothing like competing in a fixture with something riding on it - and facing their rivals from the other end of the M27.
She claims the excitement could not be higher in the squad as they prepare for a cup final with supporters allowed back in stadiums for the first time since early December.
Bradley said: ‘Whether it’s a cup final or not a cup final, Southampton is always a big game for us.
‘Everyone is excited for it and it’s the first time fans can be in the stadium for a while so there’s that added factor as well - fans, competition and our south coast rivals which is always a good game.
‘It’s that first competitive match - granted, we try to treat every game as a competition - but nothing comes close to a final or to three points when there’s something on the line.
‘Training has been intense, the games have been good and we’ve been trying some new things. We’ve given ourselves a good run going into this game.
‘It could play a part (FA Cup removal motivation), at the end of the day, a game is a game, but there are so many variables that have changed now with fans allowed in, trophy on the line, a long period without a game and everything.’
Pompey have played all their home games at Westleigh Park this season and are tonight protecting a 100 per cent record in competitive games there.
In the National League Southern Premier Division, they recorded wins against Plymouth (7-0), Hounslow (3-0), Gillingham (2-1) and MK Dons (4-1).
They also defeated Cheltenham 2-0 in the FA Cup - Bradley scoring direct from a corner - before they were withdrawn for fielding an ineligible player.
Top scorer Becki Bath has certainly enjoyed playing at Westleigh Park in 2020/21 - she has netted 10 times in those five competitive wins.