Portsmouth’s Development Squad progress into the semi-finals of the FA Women’s National League (FAWNL) Plate at the expense of Stourbridge Reserves thanks to a late goal from April Hill.
Pompey came into the match favourites, they sit second in the FAWNL Reserves South-West division, only separated from the top spot by Bridgwater United’s superior goal difference. The Glass Girls, who’re still a relatively newly formed team, have only picked up one league win and are second from bottom in the respective Midlands division.
The match began brightly for the home side as Portsmouth forward, Macey-Nikiah Walters, sought to test the visitor’s back line. However, they stood firm and were well supported by a hard-working midfield which included sixteen-year-old Erin Hogan, making her debut at this level.
Stourbridge always looked to be a threat on the break whenever possible but Portsmouth were the side looking most likely to score. Their best chance came from Chelsea Burr, her shot from distance struck the crossbar, much to the relief of the visitor’s bench and vocal travelling support.
Going into the second half Portsmouth began where they left off, trying to create openings but being denied by a well-organised Stourbridge. Mollie Small’s Portsmouth side were restricted to shots from distance but none troubled Ash Walton in the Stour goal.
Neither side was able to break down the other, and then with five minutes to go the referee blew his whistle after his assistant raised his flag. For a brief moment everyone paused and wondered why. Seconds later the penny dropped around the stadium, Walton had been judged to have handled the ball outside of her area as she released the ball. A harsh decision as it must have been close. Outside of the referee’s assistant, no one had noticed and if they said they did then they are lying.
Maisie Aldridge stepped up to take the free kick, her shot was parried by Walton but up popped April Hill to smash the ball in from close range.
There was still time for a goal-mouth scramble at the other end but Portsmouth were able to hold out for the win.
They weren’t at their best but huge credit must go to Stourbridge as they were well-organised and worked hard to limit Portsmouth to very few opportunities.
Portsmouth: Libby Kingshott, Maisie Aldridge, Chelsea Burr, Skye-Louise Granger, April Hill, Jade Hockey, Esme Parsons, Nancy Sanderson, Ruby Saunders, Macey-Nikiah Walters, Aimee Woodard
Subs: Gemma Luke, Jessica Toft, Ella Wilson
Stourbridge: Ashleigh Walton, Charlie Atkinson, Megan Bailey, Phillipa Butcher, Phoebe Crampton, Isla McNally, Ruby Meeson, Demi Phillips, Grace Rogers, Keira-Cheynelle Scarlett, Erin Hogan
Subs: Ellie Allen, Zara Gibbs, Tara Salt, Megan Priest