Can Portsmouth Women Turn Their Season Around?

It was a perfect start to the season for Jay Sadler‘s Portsmouth. They beat C&K Basildon and Gillingham in their first two fixtures, scoring ten and conceding just one in the process.

Since then things have not been going as well. Portsmouth have lost four in a row, including a cup defeat at the hands of local rivals Chichester City. On Sunday Sadler said, “It’s been a very challenging week, both physically and emotionally. Obviously we’re disappointed with today’s result, but I know this group has so many special qualities, and I am fully confident that we will get back on track soon!”

Photo: Jordan Hampton

With the sudden departure of Shannon Albuery to Super League side, Yeovil Town, the Blues have lost one of their main goalscoring threats. This puts more pressure on the likes of Daisy McLachlan, Rachel Panting and new signing Esther Anu to score goals.

When you look at the build-up for both goals against Watford at the weekend Portsmouth obviously have quality going forward. However they won’t be happy with the defending that allowed Watford to return home with all three points.

Portsmouth’s next fixture, away at MK Dons is a must-win game. A defeat could see a gap opening up between them and the sides at the top of the table. While any gap at this stage of the season wouldn’t be insurmountable it would leave the Blues with very little margin for error in the rest of their league campaign.

Photo: Jordan Hampton

Local journalist and Portsmouth Media Manager, Ollie Cook described to me that “At Portsmouth FC Women, we’ve got a very good squad, with a lot of depth. Jay has worked hard over the summer to bring the right faces into the club. The past few results haven’t gone our way, but those three league games and the cup exit won’t define our season. There are plenty of points to play for, and of course several trophies up for grabs. Confidence is still high within the squad and it won’t be long before we are back to winning ways again.”

Portsmouth Women’s Vlogger Ian Chiverton gave me his take on the season so far. “We find ourselves in an early season slump. It’s not totally unexpected. From last year’s squad we have lost Shannon Albuery and Molly Clark who both left to turn professional, and Charley Boswell and Sammy Quayle who joined Lewes in the Championship. Losing your two top goal scorers, a class midfielder and your captain is huge and it’s going to take time to find our feet.”

“Now we are under the umbrella or Portsmouth FC budgets are set and we are competing with side’s who have huge resources compared to us. In recent weeks we have been very unfortunate not to come away with points from our last three games. Poor officiating cost us a draws against Chichester and Coventry and we threw away a 2-1 lead in the in the final minutes against Watford. We can only control the controllable.”

Club Captain, Amelia Southgate.
Photo: Jordan Hampton

“We have undoubted quality in our squad. If the players show the fight and desire they have in recent weeks there is no doubt we will get back to winning ways soon. New Captain Amelia Southgate and Vice Captain Rachel Panting are leading by example and when you have the genius that is Daisy McLachlan in the team, anything is possible. On our day we can beat anyone in this league, we have to go into each game knowing that. With the next 3 league games being against sides with similar records to us, it’s time for the players to stand up and be counted. I believe in them.”

I agree with Ollie and Ian! Portsmouth can feel slightly unlucky to have not taken more from the last few games, but at this level there is a fine margin between victory and defeat. Their squad is packed full of talented players and there is clearly a great rapport between them. With the continued support of the Blue Army, hard work and a little bit of luck, I am sure that will look back at this period of their season as a bit of a blip.

I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of this soon enough.
Photo: Jordan Hampton

Stuart Barker
hellosince71@gmail.com