Match Report: Portsmouth 1-1 Southampton (3-2 pens)

On Wednesday evening Portsmouth took on local rivals Southampton in the Hampshire FA County Cup final at Havant & Waterlooville’s Draper Tools Community stadium. The original tie was postponed due to COVID restrictions. 

Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s Saints came into the match on the back of a great FA Cup run saw them victorious against Yeovil United and Lewes, Eventually exiting the competition 3-2 against Women’s Super League side Birmingham City. 

Portsmouth have owned this competition over the years but their dominance within the local area is heavily under threat with the emergence of Saints, Moneyfields, AFC Bournemouth and the long-established Southampton Women. 

Coming into the game Portsmouth have managed only friendlies since their unfortunate exit in the Women’s FA Cup, although from what I’ve heard these post lockdown friendlies are more competitive and intense than your average pre-season encounter. 

By the time the match was preparing to kick off the car park was jam-packed with every space filled. While outside the ground the grass verges were also stacked with fans excited to return to see live football. Many fans of both sides are likely to have been enticed to the match after being unable to see their beloved men’s side play over the last fourteen months. 

There was a tangible feeling of joy at the return of the beautiful game and everyone eagerly anticipated the start of the match. 

It was Portsmouth who were able to find themselves ahead when club captain, Jade Bradley, scored a wonderful free-kick. The foul on Shannon Albuery was just outside the right-hand corner of the box. Bradley was able to get it around the two-player wall and have it dip into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal, making it difficult for Saints keeper, Kayla Rendell.

Saints didn’t let their heads drop and immediately went on the attack. Their first big chance of the game came after a superb run from Ella Morris who ran the ball the length of the pitch, evading an onrushing Hannah Haughton in the Pompey goal but Ella Pusey was unable to direct the cross into the net as Jazz Younger headed clear. Relief for the blues section of the fanbase.

As the half continued it was an even encounter with some strong but superbly timed challenges.

Jade Widdows thought she was through to double the lead when she pounced on a loose pass from Milly Mott but Widdows slipped as she shot and it was an easy save for Rendell in the end.

It was important that Pompey held onto their lead as I felt that if Saints had equalised before the break then the boost that would’ve given them will have seen them go on to win the game.

Southampton started the stronger of the sides in the second half, forcing Portsmouth to play much of it within their own half. In the fifty-seventh minute it was the former Pompey forward that levelled the game at 1-1. Lucia Kendall threaded a beautiful pass that split the Pompey backline to find Panting in space and she made no mistake slotting the ball into the net.

Saints continued to dominate the territory but when they came forward they found Haughton in inspired form, most notably saving superbly from Pusey’s volley from the edge of the six-yard box.

Photos: Graham Scrambler

Much to the relief of all of the parents with their young children the game would go straight to penalties when neither side could find the winner in normal time.

Katie James, Rose Parnell and birthday girl Mia Adaway scored the first three penalties. Former blue and Saints captain, Shannon Seivwright’s penalty was superbly saved from Haughton.

As we entered the third round of kicks Freya Jones hits her kick over the bar, handing a lifeline to Saints. A lifeline that was squandered when Haughton saves again from Georgie Freeland.

Danielle Rowe and Ella Pusey both score their kicks meaning that if Ava Rowbotham scores then the blues win. Her low penalty was saved by Rendell who took it upon herself to take the final Saints penalty. She needed to score to take it to sudden death but her powerful shot came off the crossbar. Cue wild celebrations from the Pompey players and bench.

Portsmouth: Haughton, Rowe, Younger, Tonks, Bridge, Rowbotham, Bradley (Ingram), James, Cunningham (Adaway), Albuery, Widdows (Jones)

Southampton: Rendell, E.Morris, Provan, Parnell, Williams, Pusey, Sievwright, C.Morris, Kendall (Ware), Panting (Pharoah), Mott (Freeland)