Southampton FC Women are preparing for their second cup final in as many years, facing local rivals Portsmouth in the 2019/20 Hampshire FA Senior Cup final.
Saints vs Portsmouth
Hampshire FA Senior Cup final
Wednesday 19th May, 8pm BST
Tickets available (see below for details)
It’s been some time since Saints played in the Hampshire FA Senior cup, 475 days to be exact.
That game was a 6-0 win over Moneyfields at Snows Stadium, Rachel Panting the star of the show with four goals either side of a Shannon Sievwright penalty and a late Ella Pusey strike.
But for all the time Saints have had to wait for another senior cup outing, it’s been a lot longer layoff for Wednesday’s opponents.
Pompey got to the final via two walkovers, first over Warsash Wasps Sports in the quarter-finals and then over Winchester City Flyers in the last four.
It’s certainly been a long time coming, with the welcoming back of fans adding that extra special spice to the occasion.
HOW TO GET YOUR TICKET
In line with the recent COVID-19 guidelines and the move to step three on the roadmap out of lockdown, spectators will be able to attend Wednesday’s final.
Tickets will be available on the gate, priced as follows:
Adults - £10
10-16, Over 65’s and concessions - £5
Under 10’s – Free
Gates open at 7pm, with visiting fans asked to enter via the turnstiles located on the side of the ground closest to the Westleigh pub.
Whilst it’s been 475 days since Saints last took to the field in senior cup action, it’s only been 468 days since they last met with their south coast rivals.
The two sides clashed during the 2019/20 Women’s National League cup quarter-final, with Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side travelling to Privett Park at the start of February.
Pusey opened the scoring on 15 minutes, played through by Ella Morris before the striker coolly slotted home.
The second and final goal came in first-half stoppage time, again scored by Pusey who converted from Alisha Ware’s through ball in an equally-as-cool manner.
Pompey attempted to come back in the second half but proved no match for Saints’ stern defence.
A Saints vs Portsmouth game is special for all involved, particularly when it’s a cup final, but for one member of the Saints squad there’s an added importance to Wednesday’s game.
Team captain Shannon Sievwright lived and grew up in Portsmouth, alongside playing for the club on two occasions, but most notably of all has to contend with a predominantly blue side supporting family.
“I grew up in Pompey,” admits the midfielder. “I was born there and have lived there my whole life. I started playing football for the youth system aged nine and left when I was 13 but joined when I was 16.
“I do tend to go for walks there on gamedays in my tracksuit and I get a few comments like ‘you’re brave wearing that!’
“I spoke to my Pompey supporting Dad yesterday and he said the ideal situation is, ‘you score a hat-trick and Portsmouth win 4-3!’ but my mum supports Southampton, she’ll be in a Saints scarf!
“I think they’ve had a good season and recently a good few friendlies. They will be strong but a challenge we’ll really embrace.
“The last meeting was competitive but we showed what we could do and the level we want to get at. This fixture is another occasion to show that level and beyond."
It’s been a month of tests for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side, who fell just short when they lost out 3-2 to Super League side Birmingham City in the FA Cup on Sunday.
But attention now turns to Wednesday where her team face a new challenge and one they are certainly looking forward to.
“It’s a cup final against our biggest rivals,” said Spacey-Cale. “They’re a really good team in the tier above us and have had some good results in their friendlies.
“It’s going to be a real passionate derby. It’s exciting for the players to play in a game like this, we have only been in one cup final since I’ve been here. I want to see how our players perform under this kind of pressure with it being such a big game for the region.
“The old saying is ‘play the game, not the occasion’, I think that’s going to be really key. It’s not about who we’re playing it’s about how we play and how we perform.
“There’s a lot of talent in Hampshire and a lot of good clubs with good players and good coaching staff. Every time you play a team in this cup run you know it’s going to be a battle.”