The shining light in the darkness – The story so far for Portsmouth Women

Published: 16/01/2023

By Ian Chiverton

Pompey Women kicked off after their Christmas break away to London City Lionesses last Sunday.  As I sat watching the girls warming up it got me thinking just how well this group has done over the first half of the season.

In my Season Preview I talked about the challenges ahead in the highly competitive Women’s Southern Premier Division.  With the new 22/23 squad including 9 new signings and the loss of the very successful 21/22 strike force of Khassal and Albuery, it was going to be interesting to see what they could achieve.

They haven’t disappointed.  Pompey currently sit 3rd in the table.  8 points behind the consistent Oxford United but with a game in hand.  Pompey  have won 6 and drawn 1 of their first 10 games.  However you can’t help let your mind wander on what could have been.

Out of the 4 games Pompey have dropped points in , 3 were very hard to take.  Despite being well on top Pompey conceded two late goals to Gillingham at home, drawing 2-2.  Then a month later cruising against Bridgewater only to lose 3-2 in the dying seconds. We also dominated large parts of the game against a very direct London Bees only to lose 1-0.

Had we just managed to see out the Gillingham and Bridgewater games we would be right on Oxfords coat tails.  But that’s not how football works, and it’s also unrealistic to expect a squad containing 9 new signings and so much upcoming young talent to be that consistent this early in their tenure.

There is a huge second half of the season coming up now.  Speaking to manager Jay Sadler will show you he absolutely refuses to believe his side are out the title race.  He backs his team and plays positive football to reflect that. A trademark of his time here.

The top 4 places in the League are currently occupied but the teams I expected to be there in my season preview.  Oxford sit top, Watford second, Pompey third and then Ipswich 4th.  Billericay currently sit 5th.  2nd through to 5th all sit on 19 points making it a full sprint race to catch Oxford for the title and a chance to play in the promotion match vs the winners of the Northern League.

Whether it be in Cup or League Pompey have beaten all the sides in top places already this season.  A huge positive to take in to the last 12 games.  They know they can beat anyone, but can they do it consistently enough to catch Oxford who are a well established team peaking after years of building on solid foundations.

Pompey have had some outstanding results so far this season.  Beating Ipswich away 3-0 on the opening day was a huge head turner in the division.  Following that up with a League wins against Watford and Billericay then beating Oxford in the Cup just before Christmas really has showed that Pompey mean business this season.

On Sunday they got to show just how far they have come when they faced fully professional London City Lionesses away in the FA Cup.  LCL currently sit top of the Women’s Championship .

Pompey were outstanding.  Losing 1-0 to a highly controversial goal which I still don’t think crossed the line.  Pompey also had a late disallowed goal for a marginal offside.  The players did us proud and it’s a great way to launch into the second half of the season.

Pompey have had a few players stand out so far this season. Top goal scorers Emma Jones and Sophie Quirk and been critical cogs in the Pompey attack.  At the back the formidable centre back pairing of Jazz Younger and Dan Rowe have been keeping teams at bay.  When they did get through the ever reliable Hannah Haughton has so often saved the day.

Pompey have only conceded 14 goals in 16 games so far this season.  A special mention must also go to Nicole Barrett.  She has stepped up to tier 3 football with ease and is not only solid defensively but also a real threat up the wing.

There is nothing but positive things to look forward to in the remaining months.  Pompey are chasing for the title, they still have their PDFA and Hampshire Cup titles to retain and are just 2 games away from a national final in the League Cup.  Regardless of what the team win this season the fact we are competing on all these fronts is credit to the players and staff.

If you have ever thought about coming to a game then now is the time.  This team is everything a Pompey fan could ever wish for.  Then play positive football and don’t know the meaning of lying down and accepting defeat.  Hopefully we will see some of you at Westleigh Park soon.

Photo Credit  to Jason Brown