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Rusthall 1 University of Portsmouth 3
University of Portsmouth Community WFC avoided the fate of several Combination teams facing lower league opponents and progressed to the First Round of the F A Women's Cup with a 3-1 away win at Rusthall.
Two second half penalties proved the difference between Uni and their South East Counties League Division One West hosts who made them fight hard with a spirited display in front of a large and supportive crowd at Jockey Farm.
Uni made a confident and fluent start, moving the ball neatly to open up the home defence several times in the early stages. Molly Booth had the first shot on target but it was Paige Seeley who opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a powerful cross shot from a tight angle.
Home keeper Samantha Wright was out quickly to deny Seeley a second, then Jaz Williams was wide from close range after good work by Lacey Plombley. Williams then went round the keeper but hit the side netting as Uni kept up their impressive opening twenty minutes.
Having weathered the storm, Rusthall worked hard to get a foothold in the match. The Rustics put pressure on the Uni defenders and started to win the midfield battles. The equaliser came when Louisa Cambridge was penalised for a tackle and Kerry Tagg converted from the spot on 34 minutes.
Rusthall visibly grew in confidence and went close when a free kick from wide left shot across the Uni six yard box. Wright was forced into another good save when Booth set up Plombley but Rusthall went into the break on level terms with their South West Combination visitors.
Just as in the first half, Pompey Uni started very brightly, forcing three early corners taken by Megan Evans on the right and taking a number of long range shots at the home goal. A Booth cross gave Laura Newsome the chance to test Wright who turned a 15-yard shot wide.
Another corner on 62 minutes gave Uni a deserved lead via a penalty with Cambridge converting confidently after a late challenge in a goalmouth scramble.
Again Rusthall responded well and only a fine Sherry Fowler save prevented an equaliser after neat play sent Leanne Strudwick through on goal. Uni still looked the more threatening team though, Newsome firing against the post and Evans going close from distance.
Becky Deacon tested Wright from 20 yards before the visitors made the game safe with another spot kick, this time converted by Newsome on 84 minutes.
Both keepers were called upon to make good saves in the final minutes as the game opened up but it was the visitors who were celebrating a well fought win against a very hard working Rusthall side who had pushed them all the way.
University of Portsmouth are having a tough time in the league, with just a single win so far but played good constructive football throughout. Rusthall matched them for much of the game but Uni had a wider variety of attacking options and played with good width which created space for their attackers and saw manager Ryan Salmon's team through to Monday's draw.
Rusthall: Samanha Wright, Rebecca Saxby, Poppy Gilden, Florentia Anastasiou, Rebecca Wickens, Courtney Smith, Charlotte Pollingdine, Leanne Strudwick, Katherine Nichols, Kerry Tagg, Lauren Davidson. Subs: Jodie Hawkins, Kylie Stroud, Victoria Regan, Holly James.
University of Portsmouth: Sherry Fowler, Kirstie White, Louisa Cambridge, Gemma Smith, Becky Deacon, Paige Seeley, Molly Booth, Megan Evans, Jaz Williams, Lacey Plombley, Laura Newsome.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Leanne Strudwick takes on Louisa Cambridge
(middle) Laura Newsome holds off the attentions of Katherine Nichols
(bottom) Molly Booth gets in a cross past Jodie Hawkins
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