Why Portsmouth Women's Hampshire Senior Cup final showpiece against arch-rivals Southampton FC will not take place

Pompey Women's planned Hampshire Senior Cup final south coast derby showdown is off after Southampton FC Women took the decision to withdraw from the competition.

By Lewis Mason
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 9:38 am

However, the Hampshire FA confirmed in a statement of Southampton Women's withdrawal from the competition.

Southampton stated they took the 'difficult decision' to withdraw because of the ‘challenge of scheduling the game at a suitable point in their calendar and also in consideration of the wellbeing of their players’.

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Pompey Women's Hampshire Senior Cup final showdown with Southampton FC is off after their arch-rivals pulled out of the competition Picture: Dave Haines

The Blues' National League Southern Premier rivals claimed a request to change the date of the final was denied by the county FA.

But the Hampshire FA stated after 'positive dialogue' with the Women's FA National League they had agreed Southampton's scheduled meeting with Crawley Wasps could be postponed in order to free up space in their fixture schedule to play the cup final.

A Hampshire FA statement read: ‘Hampshire FA can confirm that we have received notice of withdrawal from Southampton FC Women from the Women’s Senior Cup which will now be considered by our appointed competitions sub-group in due course.

‘For clarification, the final versus Portsmouth FC was due to be played on Wednesday, 30 March 2022 at Eastleigh FC.

‘Southampton FC Women gave notice that this fixture clashed with a FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division fixture away to Crawley Wasps FC.

‘We had positive dialogue with representatives of The FA Women’s National League who agreed to postpone the league fixture to enable the final to be played. We will make further comment on revised arrangements for the final at the earliest possible opportunity.’

But with Southampton FC Women having 13 league fixtures still to fulfill this season, as well as remaining in the Women's FA Cup and League Cup, they insisted the decision was taken in the best interests of their players' well-being.

A club statement said: ‘Southampton FC Women have regrettably withdrawn from playing in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup final, due to ongoing fixture congestion.

‘Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s team had progressed to the final, where they were set to face Portsmouth for the second successive season.

‘However, they have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from the competition due to the challenge of scheduling the game at a suitable point in their calendar and also in consideration of the wellbeing of their players.

‘As well as the Hampshire Senior Cup, Saints also remain in the FA Cup and League Cup, as well as continuing their chase for promotion to the Championship.

‘Hampshire FA had set the date for the final, which was scheduled to be played at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium, as Wednesday 30th March.

‘A request from the club to move this was denied, and with Saints already facing a league fixture on that date and little flexibility left in their calendar due to the volume of remaining fixtures, they have opted to withdraw.

‘During discussions, the club did suggest the possibility of using RTC Academy players to fulfil the fixture, however they were informed they would be deemed ineligible unless they had played in a previous round in the competition or had played in three competitive matches for the first-team.

‘With no blank weekends left between now and the end of the league campaign, a series of midweek fixtures, further games to be rearranged due to a number of previous postponements, and the potential for additional progression in the FA Cup and League Cup, it was felt the best decision in terms of the players’ wellbeing and also the team’s league campaign, which must remain its priority, was to withdraw.’

But Sadler's side were defeated after extra-time in a Women's FA Cup south coast derby battle earlier this season and went down 1-0 when the teams met in the league at Fratton Park in December. Pompey Women head to Southampton for the reverse league fixture on April 20.