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Portsmouth defender Fiona McMillan is satisfied with her team's start to the season in winning one and drawing one of their opening two games.
Pompey recorded their first victory of the season in beating WFC Fulham 2-1 on Sunday and Fiona told Women's Soccer Scene after the game that it was a hard earned win. "It was a tough match and the heat was tough," she said. "Our pre-season hasn't been the best but, with the way we adapted (against Keynsham) last week and today, it's looking more promising now.
"It's always important to get off to a good start. We went to Keynsham in the last match of last season and lost 1-0, so we knew what we were up against and the way we took the game to them was quite positive - I was impressed with our work rate and that's what got us the point. Today, we played the football that we are best at and that is why we won."
"It was unbearable, very hot," added Pompey midfielder Leeta Rutherford when asked about the searing heat during the match. Leeta also praised Brooke Chaplen, who scored her side's two goals, saying: "Brooke was excellent today and did what she is best at - she gets on the ball and drives at players and scored two good goals."
Portsmouth have been among the title challengers in the Southern Division in each of the past few seasons and Fiona feels that a settled squad will help their quest for promotion this time around. "Because there are no close rivals to us, it's a compact team," she says. "We do know each other's game well and know the others well off the field as well. It's a slight disadvantage that, being so far away from other teams, it can be harder to encourage other players (to come) so it is a good thing that we are a close knit and loyal team."
One major factor during Pompey's title chases has been their good defensive record, of which Fiona - a regular member of that defence - is proud. "Last season we were a little unhappy with the amount we let in," she admits, "bearing in mind that, the previous year, we had conceded very little - maybe that's why we didn't win the league.
"The defence knows, and takes it hard, when they concede many goals. Last week, and in today's game, the goals came out of nothing and not from individual mistakes, which is promising, and we do look quite strong."
So, if Portsmouth are to be among the challengers again, who is likely to be their main rivals? "Barnet are going to be up there somewhere," replies Leeta, "and Fulham could still be there - it's early days yet."
"I think that all the London clubs, especially because of the Charlton situation, will have strong individuals," adds Fiona. "Everyone is capable of beating anyone and the league title is up for grabs."
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