While many were following Women’s Football Weekend via the Super League, Championship and Women’s FA Cup, I spent my Sunday afternoon watching the future of women’s football as Chichester & Selsey’s Development Squad hosted Portsmouth.
As a fan of Portsmouth and as a sponsor of Chichester & Selsey first teams, my loyalties were split during this encounter. For me, this match would have ideally ended as an entertaining high scoring draw. However, it was the home side who came away with a victory thanks to goals in either half from Amelia Hammond and Lou Lou Robson.
This match marked Daisy Simms’ final game in charge of Portsmouth after announcing that she is to leave the role due to personal commitments. Simms led her side to a second-place finish in the Hampshire County Women’s League last term, prior to the move to the FA Women’s National League Reserve Section.
Things began in far from ideal circumstances of Simms when Portsmouth keeper, Sofia Pittortou, was injured during the warm-up. She began the match but was forced to admit defeat and leave the pitch within the opening ten minutes, being replaced by outfielder Aimee Woodard.
The first half was an even encounter with few chances. Not long before half time Amelia Hammond put the home side ahead. She found herself through on goal from a central position and was able to maintain her composure to slot the ball passed Woodard into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
As both teams went into changing rooms at half time there was still very much to play for.
In the second half, Portsmouth’s Grace Laidlaw and Macey-Nikiah Walters looked bright as the blues chased an equaliser.
It was Walters who was credited with finding that equaliser with a finish from close range at a tight angle. From my point of view, the ball appeared to go in off a Chichester & Selsey player but I was the other end of the pitch so we should definitely give the benefit of the doubt to Walters.
With both sides chasing their first league win of the season they appeared to be cancelling each other out and there were very few meaningful chances created.
With appx ten minutes left of normal time, Chichester & Selsey were awarded a free-kick just outside the eighteen yard box and central to the goal. Club captain, Robson stepped up and hit a low shot into the corner of the goal which deflected off the keeper’s boot into the back of the net. The shot itself would have been easily gathered by a specialist goalkeeper but being a last-minute stand-in with no previous experience in goal Woodard should be forgiven.
Portsmouth were clearly frustrated as the game entered the closing minutes, Woodard voicing her displeasure towards the referee. Something I have a lot of sympathy with as there were certainly some calls missed that would have benefitted the blues.
As the final whistle sounded there were loud cheers from the Chichester & Selsey bench. They knew how important this victory was, it moves the side onto four points and sixth place in the league. Three points above their opponent who occupy the foot of the table but with two games in hand.
This was my first taste of the National League’s Reserve Section and the future appears bright as both teams consisted of predominantly sixteen and seventeen-year-olds.
Chichester & Selsey: Charlie Davey, Rhiannon Hambleton, Amelia Hammond, Ellie Jefkins, Rebecca Johnson, Jessica Key, Sophia Poling, Nicole Robinson, Loulou Robson, Gemma Staple, Lavinia Tewkesbury
Subs: Samantha Dongo, Molly Stoddart
Portsmouth: Maisie Aldridge, Kitty Cleeve, Skye-Louise Granger, Grace Laidlaw, Sofia Pittortou, Lucienne Selvester, Lena Stroem, Macey-Nikiah Walters, Tarran Williams, Aimee Woodard, Lucy Coalter
Subs: Elena Butcher, Lucie Croft, Isabella Doel, Millie Gell, Ruby Saunders