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Portsmouth 2 Cardiff City Ladies 0
Portsmouth moved into second place behind early Southern Division leaders Gillingham with a 2-0 home victory over Cardiff City Ladies.
A goal in each half saw off a spirited Cardiff team who had plenty of the ball in dangerous areas but were unable to find a way past a strong defence. Cardiff too were impressive in defence in a match where clear chances were at a premium and the midfield battles were fierce.
Ironically, Pompey nearly scored in the first minute for a second home match in a row as Kaylee Schumann-Edwards at the back post just failed to head home Lucy Quinn's left wing corner. Gemma Hillier, sent clear on goal, was foiled in the act of shooting by a superb tackle from Louise Hutton on 15 minutes.
Pompey did take the lead on 26 minutes when Jess Frampton's cross was nodded down by Charley Wiison for Kirsty McGee to force the ball home from close range.
Cardiff responded really well to the setback and exerted pressure on the home rearguard. Cori Williams had an effort well held whilst Zoe Atkins went very close to equalising on two occasions around the 35 minute mark. A slick passing move sent her clear on goal and she shot past the advancing Sadie Blakely but inches wide of the far post. After a delay for injury to both players, Atkins returned to the pitch and immediately fired in a 15 yard angled drive which Blakely pushed away at full stretch.
Cardiff keeper Rhian Nokes had to be at her best to tip over a Quinn close range shot from a Wilson pass on 43 minutes to ensure that the Welsh team went to the break with only a single goal deficit.
On the restart, the visitors continued to press with wide players Kelly Aldridge and Naomi Clipston seeing a lot of possession. However, Pompey's back four and covering midfielders got in a number of crucial blocks and clearing headers which protected their clean sheet to the end.
A jinking run by Hillier drew a foul right on the edge of the area and Quinn stepped up to drive the ball just inside the far post and give the home team some breathing space on 80 minutes. Nokes made two fine saves to deny first Gemma Simmonds then Quinn shooting low to her right. Cardiff nearly cut the deficit when Bethan Lloyd rounded the keeper but shot wide from a tight angle on 84 minutes and Portsmouth saw out time for a hard earned victory
The absence of on loan striker Sarah Wiltshire, amongst others, on international duty might well have had an effect on the shape of the contest but there is no doubt that Portsmouth gave a good team effort to claim the win for joint managers Katie Poore and Perry Northeast.
Portsmouth: Sadie Blakely, Gemma Simmonds, Lauren Murphy, Kaylee Schumann-Edwards, Nadine Bazan, Leeta Rutherford, Kirsty McGee, Jess Frampton, Gemma Hillier, Charley Wilson, Lucy Quinn. Subs: Tiffany Taylor, Louise Lee, Becky Hunt, Sarah Kempson, Ellie Crabb.
Cardiff City Ladies: Rhian Nokes, Annie Pritchard, Ellie Smith, Hannah Daley, Louise Hutton, Kayleigh Green, Kelly Aldridge, Kelly Isaac, Zoe Atkins, Cori Williams, Naomi Clipston. Subs: Paige Stewart, Bethan Lloyd.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kelly Aldridge skips a sliding tackle from Leeta Rutherford
(middle) Charley Wilson is closed down by Louise Hutton
(bottom) Jess Frampton is challenged by Ellie Smith
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