Portsmouth FC Ladies 6 Southampton Women 3 (Hampshire Women’s Challenge Cup Final)
Sammy Quayle was the shining star in the south-coast fog as Portsmouth Ladies lifted the Hampshire Challenge Cup after a 6-3 win against Southampton Women.
The Pompey striker netted five, including four in the second half, as the lead changed hands on several occasions throughout the game.
However, the game very nearly did not go ahead, as with the clock showing 6:45, the fog began to close in. This continued to a point where just 15 minutes before kick-off, there were severe doubts from those watching on at Westleigh Park as to whether the game would go ahead.
Southampton had the better of the early going as they created the best of the early chances but were unable to make their mark on the scoreboard.
All Southampton’s early pressure eventually told as Jane Yeates was unmarked in the penalty area to guide a cross past Courtney Trodd in the Blues’ goal to put the Reds 1-0 up after 18 minutes.
Five minutes later, the game was turned completely on it’s head as two quick goals from first Quayle and then the second from captain, Gemma Hillier, put the defending champions 2-1 ahead.
On the stroke of half-time with Pompey on the verge of going into the dressing rooms 2-1 up, a mistake by Trodd in the Blues’ goal saw Currie’s back pass evade the keeper and bring the south-coast rivals back on level terms. The game now hung in the balance going into the second half.
As the second half got underway, any fears that the match would not see it’s conclusion seemed to have disappeared, for although the fog still lay across the ground, it appeared to be lifting as the game progressed.
Compared to the first 15 minutes of the game, the first third of the second half was much quieter with only one chance each for either side, of which neither caused undue stress to the goalkeepers. With half an hour to go, the sides remained where they had resumed the second 45, deadlocked at 2-2. Who would blink first?
The answer to that question was provided in the 68th minute as Quayle scored her second of the evening with a deflected shot beating the despairing dive of Millie Peake in the Southampton goal to restore the defending champions lead at 3-2.
However, in keeping with the pattern of the first half, Pompey’s lead was short-lived as just two minutes later, the Reds were level. Yet another mistake by Trodd between the sticks as she failed to deal with a through ball which allowed Meg Vella to race in and slot the ball home. With 20 minutes to go, the game was back in the balance once more.
With 13 minutes to go, Pompey re-took the lead. A good ball into the box from Nadine Bazan ended up in the back of the net as Quayle showed another turn of pace, although it was unclear if she got a touch before it crossed the line. The one thing that was clear, Portsmouth led 4-3.
If the hat-trick for Quayle was not guaranteed with Pompey’s fourth goal, the fifth put that argument to bed. A tiring defence was shown by the Blues’ striker as she lost her marker before rounding the keeper and putting her side two goals clear for the first time on the night. The scoring was also rounded off for the champions-elect by Sammy as she netted her team’s sixth of the evening to put the gloss on the performance.
After the game, Quayle paid tribute to the Blues’ south-coast rivals saying “We went in there thinking Southampton would give us a good battle. I think we took a step off the game a bit, but put it to bed in the second half”.
The victory saw an eleventh triumph in the competition for the Premier Division South side following on from their win against Basingstoke 12 months ago. However, the focus will now be on the remaining games in the league campaign.