Pompey Ladies are aiming high - but title is not key focus

Sarah Kempson
Sarah Kempson
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They are top of the league with three matches to play but Pompey Ladies are not setting any title targets.

Manager Perry Northeast saw his team produce a solid away performance to beat Cardiff 1-0 on Sunday.

Sarah Kempson struck the only goal with a penalty.

It was the first time the Blues have won away to the Welsh side.

Also, it means hosts Cardiff are now out of the race for the FA Premier League southern division title – unless they win all their games and their rivals fail to pick up any points.

Pompey Ladies are one point clear of Brighton at the top.

Third-placed Charlton are eight points back from the Blues but still have four matches to play.

It promises to be an exciting finish to the season.

Northeast knows there will be title talk with Pompey sitting top.

But he insists it’s not the primary focus for him over the final three matches of the season.

‘You cannot ignore the league table but it is not the main driver for our continued effort,’ said Northeast.

‘We want to finish the season on a high.

‘If we finish first, we finish first.

‘If we finish second but we finish the season on a high, then so be it.

‘Everybody is fighting for a place in the side.

‘Grabbing one of the starting shirts is the players’ main focus and they are training very hard for that.’

The decisive goal came midway through the first half in Wales on Sunday.

Lucy Quinn was tripped in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Kempson stepped up and, after a delay due to an injury, she kept her calm to slot home.

The Blues had chances to finish the contest with a second goal but didn’t take them.

That meant Cardiff were able to put the pressure on but Pompey held strong to keep them at bay.

Northeast was delighted with the way his players adapted to the tough challenge presented by their Welsh hosts.

‘Our players were extraordinary,’ added Northeast.

‘They all did roles above and beyond what we usually ask them to do.

‘The players had to defend a lot more for the cause.

‘They really pulled together.

‘The way the game panned out – 1-0 up away from home against a side at the top of the league – meant the midfielders had to make that extra run back and the back four had to clear their lines more often.

‘Our players performed heroics.

‘They were all determined to ensure Cardiff were not going to get the ball in the net.’

Pompey Ladies travel to Gillingham on Sunday (2pm).