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Portsmouth 0 Notts County 2
Portsmouth's FA Women's Cup campaign was ended by FA WSL 1 leaders Notts County at Gosport Borough FC's Privett Park with the East Midlands team returning home with a 2-0 win.
Rick Passmoor's starting eleven, containing eight full internationals from five nations. were made to wait 75 minutes for the breakthrough by a Portsmouth display of immense skill. commitment and bravery.
Handicapped by a serious injury to key forward Charley Wilson early in the match, the FAWPL Southern Division team gave their all to defy the pace and skill of the outstanding Jess Clarke who was a constant threat all afternoon. Aided by some wayward finishing by Clarke's colleagues, Pompey remained firmly in the match until the second goal went in with ten minutes to go.
It did not take long for County to carve out a series of chances early on. Clarke was denied by a fine tackle from Kaylee Schumann-Edwards, then Sadie Blakely showed great reactions to turn away a close range effort from Caitlin Friend. Dunia Susi was guilty of shooting over an open goal after Friend had set her up as Notts tore into the Pompey defence in the first ten minutes.
Rachel Corsie had a header cleared off the line and Katie Hoyle shot just wide before Wilson found
Portsmouth's first real sight of goal on 18 minutes, having a shot blocked for a corner.
Nadine Bazan, who worked very effectively on Pompey's left was next to threaten, after Carly Telford had palmed away a long free kick. but again the Notts defence got in a vital block. The hosts had worked their way into the match by contesting every ball and found their passes better, even after Wilson's departure with a rib injury just after the half hour.
However Notts had a potent threat from the set piece delivery of Sophie Walton which was consistently dangerous. Katie Holtham hit a rasping drive inches wide from 20 yards on 34 minutes The visitors went close twice more as the break approached, Clarke being denied by Blakely and Schumann-Edwards, then hitting a post for Susi to net from an offside position as Pompey were delighted to reach the break with their goal still intact.
County continued to strive for a breakthrough, Blakely doing well to punch clear a looping Susi header from a corner. Tiff Taylor, who was excellent at heart of the Pompey defence, denied Clarke after she had broken clear and rounded Blakely on 65 minutes and Pompey stormed up the other end where Bazan broke free and set up a shooting chance which flew past Telford, only for Amy Turner to make an excellent goal saving block.
The crucial nature of this incident was emphasised with fifteen minutes left. Blakely made another fine save to turn away a Susi header for a corner and Walton's right side kick was perfectly delivered for Sophie Bradley to thump a towering header past Blakely. Clarke soon doubled the advantage using her pace to dink a shot past the advancing Blakely and just over the line despite Taylor's efforts to clear on 79 minutes.
This double blow settled the outcome and sub Courtney Sweetman-Kirk was very close to a third which would have been cruel on Portsmouth. Gemma Simmonds who had battled hard in midfield with Sarah Kempson had one final defiant effort collected by Telford as Pompey exited the competition with honour and pride intact.
Portsmouth, with five senior players departing to WSL clubs, have moulded a new look team under joint mangers Perry Northeast and Katie Poore who went into this encounter with one defeat in their last sixteen matches. Although Notts County were missing the goal threat of Ellen White, Pompey were also depleted with key defenders Lauren Murphy and Fiona McMillan injured and losing Wilson during the match was a cruel extra burden.
Both sides emerged with great credit from this encounter, County for a good professional performance and Pompey for bridging the alleged gulf between the winter and summer game just as Coventry City, Cardiff City and Gillingham had done against WSL 1 opposition in the previous round.
Portsmouth: Sadie Blakely, Jess Frampton, Tiff Taylor, Kaylee Schumann-Edwards, Nadine Bazan, Lucy Quinn, Gemma Simmonds, Gemma Hillier, Charley Wilson, Molly Clark, Sarah Kempson. Subs: Lysette Russell, Rhia Cox, Shannon Sievwright, Ellie Bloomfield, Zoe Saunders.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Dunia Susi, Katie Hoyle, Sophie Bradley, Jess Clarke, Desiree Scott, Rachel Corsie, Sophie Walton, Amy Turner, Katie Holtham, Caitlin Friend. Subs: Jules Draycott, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Emily Roberts, Sophie Haywood.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Charley Wilson gets in a shot past Rachel Corsie
(middle) Jess Clarke challenges Sadie Blakely
(bottom) Sophie Walton and Gemma Hillier in action
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