Portsmouth Women FA Cup Match Report

5th April 2021

Portsmouth 2

Portsmouth: Bradley 100′, Bath 105′

Cheltenham bowed out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after putting on a superb display, forcing Pompey Women of the FAWNL Southern Premier to earn their win in extra time.

The home side attacked right from the off looking to deflate the visitors with an early goal, but had to settle for a string of corners, the last of which saw a superb header zip over the Cheltenham crossbar.

After absorbing the pressure, Cheltenham were able to get a foothold in the game with Criddle pulling the strings in the midfield, allowing Cheltenham to win a corner of their own.

The ball in saw a defender’s header flick the ball to Grove who could only force another corner from her strong shot. Criddle’s inswinger saw Butler get in front of the Portsmouth ‘keeper but Cheltenham’s captain was unable to steer it goalwards.

The sides would battle in midfield, exchanging possession with Kayll and Bevan in the thick of things before the hosts would win another two corners.

The game developed into a classic end-to-end cup affair with Bevan asking questions of the Pompey defence and Levett sweeping up forward balls into the Cheltenham box.

The home side would create the best opening of the game with some hard work down the left flank. A clipped ball into the box was just too far in front of the striker for her to get a good connection and Levett scooped the low scuff up to relieve Cheltenham fears.

After starting at a frantic pace, Portsmouth look to control things by slowing the pace down and dictating the play while Cheltenham looked for Haynes on the left, the wingback only able to win a throw.

Criddle would give the home side a fright with a dipping free-kick. The shot, from 35 yards out, looped into the box and dropped late, just brushing the crossbar as it went over.

The teams would exchange set pieces in the latter stages of the first half, with Portsmouth pressuring corners while a Cheltenham free-kick sent Haynes into acres of space on the left, producing a fantastic cross but unfortunately nobody in red was able to connect.

The teams would both look to end strong, with Scahill and Hallsworth combining to play towards Grove in the Portsmouth area before Portsmouth would hit a shot from distance on the break, with Levett equal to it.

Half-Time: Portsmouth 0-0 CTLFC

Portsmouth would start with a fast pace again in the second half, calling Levett into action before she created a counter attack with a long clearance to Grove.

Cheltenham would win a free-kick in their own penalty area after Jones was fouled. Levett would play short and receive a pass, with the striker able to tackle her, but she recovered just in time, pouncing on the ball where the boots were flying in.

Portsmouth continued to bang on the door through a series of corners. Levett would spill the second ball in but Jones hacked the loose ball clear before Criddle was fouled on the edge of the box in a move from the resulting throw.

Haynes and Groves would combine well to cause Pompey problems. Haynes on the wing would pick up a forward ball before playing in Grove. The defender being forced to step in and concede the corner before Grove could get a sniff at goal.

Things heated up in midfield with some short, snappy tackles as both teams looked to establish dominance in the middle of the field. Portsmouth would spray the ball out to the left but Hallsworth tracked back to regain possession for Cheltenham.

Lauren Ellis replaced Courtney Jones and within minutes had almost opened up a door for Cheltenham. A cross-field ball from Pompey was cut out by a cushioned header forward to Grove, but the strong striker couldn’t capitalise.

Cheltenham would continue to face up to the test, not panicking and sticking to the plan by building from the back, looking more of a threat as the half went on.

Hallsworth and Grove would link up to set Kayll free but the winger couldn’t get her shot on target from just outside the box.

Cheltenham would have a scare of their own as a monster shot brushed the net as it zipped past the post. The visiting contingent breathing a sigh of relief to watch the ball enter the stand.

After Sarah King would come on to replace Kayll, Cheltenham had another scare on their hands. A Portsmouth ball into the box saw Levett watch it out for a goalkick with the striker giving chase. After colliding with the pressuring striker, the Robinesses ‘keeper would stay down, immediately signal for help from the bench.

With a six minute stoppage, Cheltenham made another substitution, this time Ruby Scahill made way for playmaker Jess Hood.

The second half would end with Portsmouth displaying some silky smooth passing in the Cheltenham half. The chance of the game fell to the home side right at the death. Amid appeals for a goalkick, Portsmouth played a well weighted ball into the penalty area only for the striker to swing and miss entirely with nobody in red anywhere near her. Lauren Ellis tidying up and lashing the danger clear.

Full-Time: Portsmouth 0-0 CTLFC

After Cheltenham saw a Portsmouth attack fizzle out, they were forced into another change. Levett, going straight to ground after taking the goalkick, was not able to continue, handing young back-up Molly Ripley (pictured) her First Team debut.

Despite the adversity, Cheltenham pushed on, defending relentlessly but unable to find the killer instinct in the final third. Ripley in the Cheltenham goal saw a number of forward balls drift safely out for goalkicks.

Pompey would break the deadlock with a freak goal. A zipping shot from distance saw Ripley parry the ball away for a corner. The resulting in-swinger evading everyone before ending up in the net.

Cheltenham, searching for an equaliser, looked to Grove, but her powerful shot strayed wide of the post before Portsmouth whipped a ball in from a difficult angle. Ripley again on hand to stoop down and scoop up the ball in flight, under pressure with strikers rushing in.

Five minutes after opening the scoring the home side were at it again. A thundering shot from Bath, who has chalked up her 14th goal this season in all competitions.

Ignoring the set back, Cheltenham continued to battle as Kirsten Rendall entered the game to replace Halford. King would almost find a way through as she picked a defender’s pocket and storm into the box. Twisting and turning amid penalty appeals from those in red, the young winger was crowded out and Portsmouth cleared long.

Cheltenham would have one more roll of the dice as King, lively after coming on, would look to find Grove in the penalty area but the cross ended up going behind.

Full-Time in Extra Time : Portsmouth 2-0 CTLFC

Cheltenham: R. Levett (Ripley 93), C. Jones (Ellis 62), M. Butler, R. Halford (Rendall 108), S. Hallsworth, B. Haynes, C. Criddle R. Scahill (Hood 90), A. Bevan, L. Kayll (King 80), J. Grove.
Subs not used: Hayward, Lambe, Rogers, Dolloway.


“Just so proud. If you look at the way we played today and look at Portsmouth are, they’re a very strong side and are doing very well in their division, which is obviously a tier above and we’ve come here and gone punch for punch and created chances.

“They’ve probably had the lions share of possession but we’ve played in a way we’re proud of and defended in a way we’re proud of and ultimately as a group with a weeks notice, we’ve come into an extra time game as we did against Exeter and we’ve kept going. The unity and reaction between the goals and the player’s reaction in terms of their unity and the way they come together is phenomenal.

“I said to them afterwards that there’s nothing I’m worried about, they’ve got a great togetherness and if we carry that on to next season we’ll have a very good season. And that’s what we want to build for. That’s our starting point. We start from now and we build for next season and everything we’ve done today goes into that.

“Normally I would [pick a star player] but there’s just so many! I don’t think we’ve had a poor performance, obviously we’ve had better performances than others across everywhere. Like I said to the girls, we’ve changed shape a couple of times, we’ve reacted and been proactive as well and they’ve adjusted to that, they’ve worked in and known their responsibilities and they’ve been phenomenal. It would be very, very unfair to pick one.

“[Robyn Levett] twisted her knee and she’s felt kind of a pop. She was able to carry on with a bit of support but then went again. We made the decision that Molly was here, she’s our reserve goalkeeper and ultimately that’s what we wanted to do, to give Molly the opportunity. She’s come on and been phenomenal, both goals scored I’d say are unsavable. Obviously the one from the corner which is very difficult and the one from the edge of the box is an oustanding strike. I don’t think anyone is getting close to them, let alone Molly. She’s come on, made two or three fantastic saves, been really calm and has given the defence no issues. We’re so proud of her and so proud of her development and we’re hoping she can continue that. With Rob, we’ll see what’s going on with her over the next few days and make decisions on how to best support her recovery.”

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