The Hampshire League Cup Final between New Milton Town Ladies and Pompey in the Community under 15’s proved to be a fiercely competitive and eventful encounter, which saw the Portsmouth side come out on top as champions but New Milton Ladies proudly holding their heads high.
The rain made way in time for the match to get underway on the Basingstoke FC 3G pitch and it was clear from the start that it was going to be battling performance from both sides as early attacks showed that neither side had come simply to make up the numbers.
It was New Milton, however, who got the early break when on 10 minutes a free kick 24 yards from goal gave MacKinnon the opportunity to try her luck. The fullback didn’t disappoint; her fiercely struck shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced over the line. After a moment of uncertainty, the referee’s assistant flagged that the ball had indeed crossed the line and the celebrations begun.
Following the early lead, Pompey began to edge forward and probe the New Milton defence, but the Linnets back four held firm and reduced any attacks with timely interceptions and brave blocks. Nevertheless, midway through the half, a powerful drive from 25 yards gave goalkeeper White no chance as the ball was sent high into the net to level the score.
Much of the play between the two sides for the remainder of the first half was equally contested with the Linnets threatening down the wings through Ferrett, Bungay, Orchard and Vass and the familiar link up play between Ridgley and Jennings keeping the Pompey defence on their toes.
With 10 minutes of the half to play some clever passing and movement from the Pompey forward line saw White being faced with a 1-on-1 situation only for the Portsmouth forward to knick the ball past the advancing keeper to put them 2-1 up going into the break.
Half-time: Pompey ITC 2 – New Milton Town Ladies 1
As the second half got underway, Pompey began to gain more control through the middle, despite the tireless and incredibly hardworking efforts of Brookes, Sedgwick and Davey. Gaps were beginning to appear and attacking flurries became more frequent and threatening. Two further Pompey goals came from shots from distance, but New Milton were not prepared to throw in the towel.
Jennings, Ridgley, Bungay and Vass all made penetrating runs through the defence, but the final shots or pass lacked the accuracy or venom needed to add to their score.
A fifth and final goal from Pompey had now effectively ended any hopes of a comeback, but in the closing moments, another through ball for Jennings to chase gave her the chance to slip it past the keeper only for her to see it cleared off the line. The resulting corner found Ridgley in the penalty area, who turned and volleyed the ball home. Unfortunately, she was adjudged to have used her arm to control the ball and it was disallowed.
Final score: Pompey ITC 5 – New Milton Town Ladies 1
Manager Kristian Weller gave his thoughts on the game and his teams performance:
"What a great day and what a great game! Obviously, the result is not what we had hoped for, but the girls put everything into their performances and left it all on the pitch; and I cannot ask for any more than that. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them. They had to compete against a physically strong and talented Pompey team, and I felt that for much of the game we equalled them and gave them plenty to think about.
The score line tells a different story and had we made better use of some of our chances, who knows, things could have been different.
Pompey are a talented team and were worthy winners on the day and I would like to congratulate them on a terrific performance."
White, MacKinnon, Culwick, Gulliford (Capt.), Hammond, Sedgwick, Jennings, Charalambous, Ridgley, Vass, Ferrett, Bungay, Orchard, Brookes, Dave