After becoming a father for the first time in February and due to work commitments, my time watching live football in person has been limited to the second half of the Portsmouth Divisional Cup Final which was won by today’s hosts, Portsmouth. This afternoon I was able to watch them take on Hounslow at their new home ground, Westleigh Park, which they share with Havant & Waterlooville.
Portsmouth went into the game on the back of a good start to the season and most recently a 7-0 win against Plymouth Argyle. Their opponents, Hounslow, are currently bottom of the table and without a win or a goal so far this season.
I was impressed with Pompey’s new home, especially the recently laid 3G pitch, something which Sadler will no doubt be very pleased about as much was made of Portsmouth’s heavily disrupted season due to postponements last season.
As ever, club chairman Eric Coleburn was there to greet spectators as they arrived through the turnstiles and he was also making sure that everyone followed the COVID safety requirements.
Hounslow, formerly QPR Ladies before they split with the club, arrived with no substitutes on the bench and from early on it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the visitors. Portsmouth immediately began putting pressure on the Hounslow back line, forcing them to spend large parts of the first half within their own half and struggling to get the ball into the home side’s defensive third.
That being said, Hounslow deserve a lot of credit for being very well organised. When Portsmouth brought the ball forward they were immediately met by two to three Hounslow players putting them under pressure.
Portsmouth were struggling to create meaningful chances but did make the breakthrough in the fourteenth minute when Becki Bath reacted quickest to a rebound from a Jade Bradley free-kick.
The rest of the first half followed the same pattern of Portsmouth piling on the pressure although were often kept at arm’s length by Hounslow as they dug deep and gave the home side very little time and space.
As the teams came out for the second half Portsmouth knew that the second goal was vital as they are still vulnerable to a sucker punch. It didn’t take that long for the home side to obtain that two-goal cushion when Bath was again on hand to score her seventh goal of the season.
Hounslow captain, Jeta Bytyqi, impressed me in the same fixture last season and again put in an impressive performance, marshalling the defence and making important challenges. Hounslow were unable to retain possession for long enough to ease the pressure on themselves and found themselves again pinned in their own half.
The game was officially over in the sixty-ninth minute when Ava Rowbotham scored a half volley from just outside the box – her first goal for her new club.
Portsmouth were able to see out the game and pick up an important three points which puts them up into fourth position in the National League South. A win in next weekend’s game with Gillingham will see Pompey finish the day in second place behind Oxford United as many of their rivals will be competing in their respective County Cup competition.
Hounslow return to the south coast in their next league game when they take on Chichester & Selsey but from what I saw today, relegation is going to be a straight shootout between them and Plymouth Argyle.