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Portsmouth went to the head of a highly competitive Southern Division of the FAWPL after a convincing 3-0 away victory at Lewes.
After an even opening 45 minutes with a Gemma Hillier goal dividing the teams, the visitors totally dominated the second half and could have added several more to two further strikes from Hillier again and sub Ini Umotong.
With the clubs meeting for the second time in a month, the opening exchanges were cagey but high tempo as the two attacking units tested the opposing defence out. Katie McIntyre set up the first notable threats for Lewes with two corners, Kirstie Spice denied from the first and a shot going close from the other.
Incredibly, Pompey were ahead seconds later as a Charley Wilson through ball sent Hillier clear of the last defender for a calm finish on 16 minutes.
Lucy Quinn had an excellent match and was a threat throughout. A 50-yard Leeta Rutherford crossfield pass put her one-on-one with Michelle Beazley who made a fine save with her feet on 32 minutes. McIntyre was very close to an equaliser with a powerful run and shot which was deflected wide by Rutherford on 35 minutes and a Lewes attacker was denied by a Sadie Blakely save from the resulting corner.
Portsmouth returned with great purpose after the break and were soon in control as Lewes could not find any rhythm going forward and the visitors were stretching the defence using the full width of the Dripping Pan pitch. Quinn raced into the area from halfway but her cut back evaded everyone on 49 minutes. Hillier played in Wilson to force another good save on 56 minutes, though play was then brought back for a free kick, which came to nothing.
Umotong was a major threat from the moment she came on. Two excellent Freddie Baker tackles denied her an immediate run on goal but she was soon setting up Wilson for a half chance which was well defended by Hayley West. Chloe Dark had the next Pompey effort just wide but the crucial second came on 71 minutes courtesy of an error from the otherwise solid Beazley, whose mishandling gave Hillier the ball 15 yards out.
Molly Clark came on and soon made a super run and cross from the right but it was a left wing corner which led to the third. There was a scramble and a suspicion of handball by another attacker before Umitong lashed the loose ball high into the net on 77 minutes. Hillier went close to her hat-trick only to be denied by a fine Beazley save whilst Wilson smashed a beauty off the bar on 82 minutes as Pompey cruised in style towards victory.
Wilson set up the third substitute Ellie Bloomfield for another good shot on goal but it was Lewes who finally found their attacking feet in the final seconds. Blakely was forced into two spectacular saves at full stretch from firstly Sian Heather, then Spice as long range efforts were beaten away, but it was too little too late for the hosts.
Cardiff City, who beat Portsmouth on the opening day, can catch the Hampshire club if they win their game in hand, with a further four clubs in close pursuit but for the moment it is Pompey who are in top spot after a run of six wins and one draw.
Lewes: Michelle Beazley, Freddie Baker, Rebecca Thompson, Hayley West, Rachel Palmer, Katie McIntyre, Kelly Newton, Catherine O'Hagan, Kirstie Spice, Charlotte Bennett, Sian Heather. Subs: Lucia Turner, Kelly McCullock, Chloe Howe, Claire Trafford.
Portsmouth: Sadie Blakely, Jess Frampton, Jodie Goodall, Leeta Rutherford, Nadine Bazan, Chloe Dark, Shannon Sievwright, Sarah Kempson, Gemma Hillier, Charley Wilson, Lucy Quinn. Subs: Ini Umotong, Eileadh Currie, Molly Clark, Ellie Bloomfield, Tiff Taylor.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Michelle Beazley makes a point blank save from Gemma Hillier
(middle) Kirstie Spice tries to hold off Sarah Kempson
(bottom) Kirstie Spice up against Sarah Kempson and Leeta Rutherford
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