Ladies: Portsmouth 2-0 Watford
Having defeated Portsmouth in the league last weekend, the Golden Girls couldn’t manage to repeat that success in the Determining Round of the FA WNL Cup, as Pompey won 2-0 after extra-time at Baffins Milton Rovers FC.
The game was scoreless at the end of 90 minutes, with both teams having chances in a closely contested encounter. That changed quickly in extra-time though, as goals from Tamsin de Bunsen and Rebecca Bath ensured the hosts progressed in the competition.
Despite the loss, there’s still a chance at silverware for Watford, with the Hornets now entering the FA WNL Plate.
With a strong squad at his disposal, Head Coach Armand Kavaja opted to make seven changes to the side that started at Portsmouth the previous weekend.
There was a debut for summer signing Ryah Vyse, while Emma Beckett and Ocean Rolandsen both started for the first time, after impressing as substitutes last time out. With Helen Ward dropping to the bench, Andrea Carid was handed the captain’s armband.
Jade Widdows had the first opportunity for the hosts as she tested Nina Wilson. Down at the other end, Beckett headed over for Watford.
Neither keeper was exactly busy in the opening half hour. Charmaine True fired an effort that went wide of the left-hand post, while Leanne Bell’s strike from distance was dipping but not quickly enough.
Wilson was soon called upon though and had to make a good save to keep it scoreless, stopping Bath who had been picked out by a fine pass from Widdows.
Watford had the ball in the net when Katie O’Leary finished from Carid’s ball across, but unfortunately for the Hornets, the flag was raised.
Kavaja’s side were beginning to get on top as the half drew to a close. Bell’s first touch was perfect to set up an opportunity and she then managed to get a good shot away, but Hannah Haughton saved well low down to her right.
O’Leary and Alysha Stojko-Down both had half-chances in the final few minutes, but neither could force Haughton into making another stop before the break.
Ward was introduced from the bench early in the second half and it didn’t take her too long to start making an impression on the game. She picked out Carid at the back post who was denied by Haughton, the rebound fell to Rolandsen, but the follow-up was blocked by a Portsmouth defender.
Not long after, Carid was testing the goalkeeper again. Her shot from an awkward angle had plenty behind it, which Haughton managed to deal with well.
The home side were starting to look more dangerous as the second half progressed. Some good work from Katie James saw her find some space inside, but she couldn’t get her strike on target.
What was arguably Portsmouth’s best chance of the 90 minutes fell to de Bunsen, from a good position, she shot just wide of the right-hand post.
With the hosts knocking at the door late on and any goal likely to be crucial, Vyse in particular was defending brilliantly. She made a key tackle in the box and then managed to head away two dangerous set-piece deliveries.
With extra-time underway, it didn’t take long for the stalemate to be broken. After missing earlier on, de Bunsen made amends with a fine strike from distance which beat Wilson.
Shortly after, that advantage was doubled. It appeared that Wilson had made a fine save as she tipped Bath’s effort onto the crossbar, but after some consultation between the officials, it was ruled to have crossed the line.
In the final minutes of the first half of extra-time, Haughton came up big for her side. Ward was picked out in the box and, with only the keeper to beat, she was denied by a great save.
The Watford skipper did manage to get the ball past the Portsmouth keeper early on in the second period of extra-time, but her shot trickled agonisingly wide of the post.
Wilson stopped de Bunsen from getting her second of the game and her side’s third, but with the Golden Girls down to ten late on due to injury, there was to be no dramatic comeback.
GOLDEN GIRLS | Wilson, Kettle, Beckett, Huggins (Fatuga-Dada, 63), Rolandsen, Stojko-Down, Scanlon (Hill, 79), Vyse, Bell, O’Leary (Ward, 55), Carid (C) (Chandler, 98)
POMPEY | Haughton, Tonks, Ingram, Southgate (C), Widdows (de Bunsen, 66), Bradley (Rowe, 66), James, Bath (May, 111), True, Lee-Stewart, Bridge (Currie, 96)
Goals | de Bunsen (93), Bath (97)