Match Report: Portsmouth 5-1 Plymouth Argyle

Jay Sadler’s Portsmouth side opened their National League campaign with a comfortable win thanks to an opening goal from Shannon Albuery, followed by four from debutant Cherelle Khassal.

As the visitors encountered delays during their journey to Westleigh Park the kick off was put back to 14:30. Just before we eventually got under way everyone inside the stadium took park a minute of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the tragic incident in Plymouth only a few days prior.

The last time Argyle visited they found themselves on the receiving end of a 7-0 defeat. Ryan Perks’ young side knew that they had their work cut out against the new look Portsmouth side which contained six players signed down from the Championship.

Portsmouth began the game strongly and kept Plymouth pinned back in their own half for much of the early stages, however, they failed to really test Poppy Soper in goal.

Jazz Younger had the best chance for Portsmouth but headed just wide from Rosie McDonnell’s corner, while Khassal dragged an effort off target. The new signing from Crystal Palace was looking bright and dangerous but will have been frustrated with herself for not being able to convert a number of first half chances that came her way.

Zoe Cunningham nearly handed Plymouth an unexpected lead but her shot smashed against the post on twenty-six minutes.

Portsmouth were unable to make their overall dominance count and the referee blew for half time with the score all square at 0-0.

Photos: Tyler Miller

Based on their performance so far, Perks’ side were likely to have come out for the second half full of confidence. Although that took a knock in the 47th minute when they were reduced to ten players, as Olivia Ramsey was sent off for bringing down Khassal on the edge of the box.

Plymouth continued to be well organised at the back and in midfield, however, on the hour Shannon Albuery gave Portsmouth the lead after slotting the ball into the bottom corner, past the onrushing Soper.

Plymouth immediately went on the attack. Rebecca Dandridge pounced on a loose ball from a free kick and fired it into the back of the net to draw her side level within two minutes of going behind, much to the disappointment of the frustrated home crowd.

No one was more frustrated than Sadler who made changes a few minutes later by bringing on Jade Bradley and Sammy Quayle for Albuery and Hayley Bridge. This move paid off when four minutes later, Khassal managed to score that debut goal that she was craving after bundling in a Jade Bradley corner at the near post.

Khassal later found herself through on goal and when attempting to round the keeper she was brought down by Soper. Khassal dusted herself off and then hit the penalty straight down the middle, passed the keeper, to end the game as a contest.

Khassal didn’t stop there, she ruthlessly exposed the gaps at the back left by the tiring ten players of Plymouth and scored two more before the final whistle, completing a dream debut.

Portsmouth: Haughton, Tonks, Younger, Gane, Rowe (c), Bridge, Rowbotham, Lane, Mcdonnell, Khassal, Albuery
Subs: Gotch, Quayle, Bradley, F. Jones, E. Jones

Argyle: Soper, Perrin, Huntley (C), Ramsey, Train, Cunningham, Dandridge, Ireland, Alphous, Knapman, Eaton.
Subs: Middleton, McMullin, Cross, Bell, Mansell