PERRY NORTHEAST praised his ‘heroic’ Pompey Ladies side after they moved to within one point of the FA Women’s Premier League southern division title with a gutsy 3-1 win over QPR.
It was a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that the Blues played the majority of Sunday’s game with only 10 players, following the controversial first-half dismissal of goalkeeper Sadie Blakely.
Goals from prolific strike duo Ini Umotong and Charley Wilson had put Pompey in control at Gosport Borough’s Privett Park, before Blakely saw red for a foul on Rs forward Natalie Adams.
Gemma Rudman reduced the arrears from the resultant penalty-kick, firing past substitute home stopper Courtney Trodd.
But Northeast’s side refused to surrender their advantage and grabbed a game-clinching goal late on through Molly Clark.
The Blues now know that a point at home to West Ham Ladies in Sunday’s season’s finale (2pm) will be enough to see them crowned champions
It will be the talking point and unfortunately so, because that was a minor incident in an otherwise heroic performance from 10 playersPompey Ladies boss Perry Northeast
The weekend’s talking point, though, remained Blakely’s contentious sending off.
Northeast said: ‘It will be the talking point and unfortunately so, because that was a minor incident in an otherwise heroic performance from 10 players.
‘Sadie has come off the pitch distraught because she believes she touched the ball.
‘I believe Sadie but unfortunately the referee saw otherwise.
‘It was very strange because the exact outcome was that he (the referee) pulled out a straight red card but then insisted at half-time that her dismissal was for two yellows.
‘One was for the decision and one was for Sadie’s reaction to the decision.
‘It was a very bizarre circumstance because had the referee actually shown that first yellow card, then would the reaction of everybody been different?
‘I would never let a player off for getting booked for dissent but the referee took so long to produce any sort of card that nobody knew what was going on.’
Unperturbed by the dismissal of a key player, the Blues responded in the best positive way after the break, drawing praise for their game management.
Northeast added: ‘Bizarrely, having 10 players galvanised the players.
‘They each knew they had to put that extra five per cent in.
‘Everybody grafted and stuck to their shape.
‘We had a very bespoke way of winning the game once we had gone down to 10 players.
‘Thankfully, they did it and fairly comfortably so.’
Pompey Ladies are hopeful that Blakely will be able to play in Sunday’s season finale – free entry to all supporters – although they are now awaiting confirmation from the league as to the exact details of her suspension.