Portsmouth Women aim for Hampshire derby success against Southampton to keep cup hat-trick hopes alive
Portsmouth Women must try to keep one of their former players quiet as they bid to keep their hopes of a unique cup hat-trick alive.
Jay Sadler’s squad host Hampshire rivals Southampton FC on Sunday with a place in the semi-finals of the Women’s National League Plate up for grabs.
Pompey have already won through four rounds to get to the last eight of a competition which is similar to that of the men’s EFL Trophy - for clubs at the third and fourth tiers of the women’s football pyramid.
Southampton’s top scorer is Rachel Panting, who played for Portsmouth as recently as last season.
Panting took her seasonal tally to 16 with a four-goal haul on Wednesday as Saints thrashed Moneyfields 6-0 to reach the final of the Hampshire Senior Cup.
There they will play the winners of the delayed tie between Portsmouth - who have won the tournament for the last 11 seasons - and Winchester City.
That was Panting’s third cup hat-trick of the season - she also netted three times against both Poole Town and Buckland in the Women’s FA Cup.
While Southampton have had a busy week - they also played Coventry United in the Women’s FA Cup at St Mary’s last Sunday, attracting a crowd of over 4,000 - Portsmouth have not played since the first Sunday in January.
Ongoing pitch drainage issues at their PMC Stadium home have led to a raft of games being postponed.
In all, nine home league and cup matches have been called off - including last Sunday’s Southern League match with Gillingham which was called off literally just minutes before kick off.
Portsmouth have not played a home game since early December - against Leyton Orient in the League Cup - while their last home league was on September 22.
Of 11 home league games scheduled for 2019/20, Portsmouth have only played three.
They will be hoping the seemingly incessant rain stops soon as four of their next five matches are at the PMC Stadium.
In addition to this weekend’s cup tie, Portsmouth are due to host Winchester in the county cup on February 13, Plymouth in the league three days later and Keynsham in the league on February 23.
The pitch, though, must also stage Baffins Milton Rovers home games - and they are due to be home on February 8, 15, 22, 26 and 29.
That is a lot of football in a short space of time on a pitch which has only staged three home games - two for Baffins and one for Portsmouth Women - since November 10.
If this weekend’s tie does go ahead, then Charmaine True will be aiming to score for the fourth round running.
Tamsin de Bunsen and Becki Bath both netted in extra-time in a 2-0 home win over Watford, before True struck an extra-time winner in a 3-2 success against Gillingham at the PMC Stadium.
True’s brace led Pompey’s 6-1 romp against Leyton Orient in the first round proper, and along with Rosie McDonnell was on target in a 2-1 win at last season’s finalists, Crawley Wasps.
In addition to the League Cup and the county cup, Portsmouth are also through to the semi-finals of the Portsmouth FA Women's Cup.