Southampton FC Women's RTC Academy fell to defeat through sudden death penalties against an experienced AFC Bournemouth side in the Hampshire FA Senior Women's Cup on Tuesday night.
Southampton FC Women’s RTC took on an experienced AFC Bournemouth side at Fratton Park in search of a first time win of the Hampshire FA Women’s Senior Cup.
With the pitch sodden from heavy rain, the first minute was a frantic affair as both sides looked to get the ball down and play.
Helena Meadows was called into action defensively early as the slick ground saw Bournemouth’s Lucy Cooper race into the box. Meadows did well to slide in and deny the cross, with plenty of Cherries lurking in the middle.
Kaylee Buckingham looked bright in the early encounters, and almost provided the perfect ball up the other end, if Cherries’ Katie Scadding hadn’t been alert to the danger to cleave away.
It didn’t take long for Kaylee Buckingham to see that pressure pay off however. Saints bodies flooded the box after some neat play up the left hand side, and the number 9 was in the right place at the right time as she tapped a miss-hit shot past the keeper to break the deadlock in the 4th minute.
Bournemouth fans were off their seats in the 12th minute as a long ball forward bounced high over Grace Jenman, looking destined for the back of the net. However, a combination of Sam Corrie and Anya Lucas did exceptionally well to clear off the line and protect the lead.
Ellie Chaffe was also seeing flashes of goal, and in the 24th minute, almost got Saints’ second as she slammed just over the bar from the edge of the box, after some good pressure from the team in teal.
Michelle Yeowell’s side were lucky to not be down to ten men as the half ticked towards the half hour mark, as Sam Corrie slid in with a last ditch tackle, taking player rather than ball.
Despite protests from the Bournemouth bench, the referee only produced a yellow card from his pocket.
Jenman was called into action shortly afterwards, denying a peach of a shot, diving down to her left to slam away a low volley.
However, there was nothing the Saints keeper could do to prevent Bournemouth’s equaliser in the 35th minute, as Kelly Fripp latched onto an inswinging corner to turn home from close range.
Despite the stalemate, neither side looked likely to go ahead again as the half drew to a close, but with Saints creating more in the attacking third throughout the first 45, Michelle Yeowell was likely pushing her side for the final product in the changing room.
A half time change saw Alisha Buckingham make way for Hannah Jeffrey, providing some fresh legs in attack.
However, Saints should have been more concerned by their defensive duties, as the Cherries pushed high in the opening five minutes.
Jenman did well to deny just before the 50th minute, as Molly Gladwell let fly from the right hand side, high towards the top corner; Saints’ number one doing well to tip over the crossbar.
Chaffe saw a sniff at goal ten minutes later, as Saints began to grow back into the game. Substitute Jeffrey did well to press high, forcing Scadding to come and close down, leaving an empty net.
Chaffe did well to spot the opening, but her driven shot was collected by a retreating keeper.
Saints almost caught the Cherries on the counter as Sofia Mallon reacted first to drive nearly the whole length of the pitch and feed in Jeffrey. She needed the return ball, but Jeffrey's choice to shoot saw the ball easily collected by Scadding.
Bournemouth went close with another set piece delivery as the clock reached the 70th minute, as substitute Molly Clark's delivery was headed inches wide of the far post by Pearl Mortimer.
With neither team able to find any real breakthrough in the final twenty minutes, it was straight to penalties to decide the winner on the night.
It was the same story with penalties, as both sides pulled off shot and save after either other, with the tie eventually decided by sudden death, Saints falling 9-8 to the Cherries.
A valiant performance by the young side, who will look to build on the positive performance after their return from the summer break.