Women's Report: Derby day delight for Saints

By SFC Media time Sun 12 Dec Portsmouth vs Saints
Photo by Isabelle Field
Sun 12 Dec 2PM
Womens FA Cup
Portsmouth FC
1
Southampton
2
Khassal [31']
goal
Kendall [65'] C. Morris [112']
Rowbotham [90']
yellow card
Venue: Westleigh Park | Attendance: 387

Caitlin Morris’s extra-time strike ensured Southampton’s progression into the fourth round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, defeating bitter rivals Portsmouth 2-1 at Westleigh Park.

After a slow start to the match, Pompey took the lead in the 31st minute, courtesy of Cherelle Khassal’s measured volley from just outside the box.

Made to wait until the second 45, a determined Saints pulled level through Lucia Kendall’s intelligent header, before a late, extra-time strike from Caitlin Morris ensured Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side progressed into the fourth round, at the expense of their closest rivals.

Despite the raucous atmosphere that welcomed the players to the pitch, the opening 15 minutes of the game proved uneventful, with a couple of half chances for Pompey striker Khassal the only notable incidents, both of which were easily dealt with by Kayla Rendell.

Contested on the 3G pitch at Westleigh Park, Southampton initially found it tricky to find their rhythm on the unfamiliar surface, but remained calm and adapted gradually, beginning to pose a real threat on their opposition’s goal midway through the opening period.

Furthermore, Saints carved their first opportunity on the half-hour mark, good play from captain Phoebe Williams in the middle setting off Kendall down the right wing, but the youngster’s low cross was well intercepted by the alert Hannah Haughton, with Georgie Freeland lurking beyond her for a tap in.

HAVANT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12:  during the Vitality Women's FA Cup match between Portsmouth Women and Southampton Women at Westleigh Park on December 12, 2021 in Havant, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Lucia Kendall drew Saints level in the second half of normal time.

However, notwithstanding the vast improvements, the visitors found themselves behind a minute later. Shan Albuery feeding a bobbling pass across box and into the path of an approaching Khassal, who did excellently to read the bounce of the ball and fire her controlled, dipping volley into the top right corner.

Spurred on by their first, the hosts soon threatened again, Albuery meeting a cross from the right and directing her flicked header toward goal from a tight angle at the near post, a good effort, but an even better save from the acrobatic Rendell, who tipped over to keep her side in the fight after 34 minutes.

With the match predictably hotting-up, Southampton may have found relief in the halftime break, which offered a chance to regroup and replan going into the second-period.

Starting strongly, the hosts instantly found their goal under siege, intricate passing play between Williams and Sophia Pharoah opening a gap for the latter to shoot, her powered effort just high of Haughton’s crossbar on 51 minutes.

Not disheartened by missed opportunities however, Southampton would soon conjure another chance, and this one proved telling.

Full-back Shelly Provan drove down the left and whipping in a wicked cross toward the unmarked Kendall, who showed poise and precision to guide her header back across goal, wrong-footing a scurrying Haughton in the process. Game on, with 25 minutes to play.

Eager to respond, Portsmouth quickly looked for a second, and almost found it through the lunge of Sammy Quayle, who couldn’t quite touch Khassal’s driven cross home amid pressure from Milly Mott and Morris collectively.

In comparison to the opening stages, the closing minutes of the game were relentless, both teams searching for a last-gasp winner, which made for an enthralling end-to-end watch.

Portsmouth had a golden opportunity to pull ahead in the 74th minute, a lofted corner clearing the punch of Rendell and hitting the shin of an unsuspecting Mott behind her, the full-back doing expertly well to attain and clear off the line before heroically stopping Danielle Rowe’s powered effort with her chest while she still laid in the goalmouth.  

HAVANT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12:  during the Vitality Women's FA Cup match between Portsmouth Women and Southampton Women at Westleigh Park on December 12, 2021 in Havant, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Caitlin Morris was Saints' late hero.

After surviving this scare, Saints continued to ask questions in the closing moments, but couldn’t land a knock-out blow before Justyn Leonard’s whistle. Extra-time and perhaps even penalties to come.

Visibly and understandably tired, given the fierce battle the preceded, the opening fifteen minutes of extra-time mainly consisted of either team trying to retain possession and control the game, desperate not to lose at such a late stage.

Substitute Ella Morris would get those dressed in red and white off their seats in the 110th minute, cutting inside onto her left foot and firing toward Haughton’s right post from distance, but a deflection ensured her effort zipped behind for a corner.

After being flicked clear for another, this time from the right, Southampton sensibly kept their defenders up, Leeta Rutherford winning the initial header amongst the crowd, consequently directing the ball toward an unmarked Caitlin Morris who had snuck toward the far post, as the defender stretched and touched the ball home with her left foot in the 112th minute to deal the final blow of an enthralling derby.

This the first of a double-header against Portsmouth, Spacey-Cale’s side will head east once more on Wednesday evening, where they will hope to replicate today’s performance in their upcoming league fixture.

Portsmouth FC

1
Hannah Haughton (GK)
4
Danielle Rowe (C)
24
Jaime Gotch
16
Evie Gane
12
Hayley Bridge
14
Ava Rowbotham yellow card
replace Jazz Younger (114′)
20
Freya Jones
replace Rebekah Tonks (100′)
10
Dani Lane
23
Sammy Quayle
replace Rosie McDonnell (83′)
13
Cherelle Khassal goal
18
Shannon Albuery
21
Libby Kingshott
2
Rebekah Tonks
3
Rosie McDonnell
6
Jazz Younger
27
Lena Stroem
35
Grace Laidlaw
36
Kitty Cleeve
40
Macey Walters
42
Maisie Aldridge

Southampton

1
Kayla Rendell (GK)
3
Shelly Provan
5
Rosie Parnell
6
Laura Rafferty
7
Georgie Freeland
replace Alisha Ware (70′)
8
Phoebe Williams (C)
replace Ciara Watling (79′)
12
Sophia Pharoah
replace Katie Rood (70′)
16
Caitlin Morris goal
17
Lucia Kendall goal
replace Ella Morris (70′)
18
Milly Mott
21
Leeta Rutherford
13
Sara Luce
2
Ella Morris
9
Ella Pusey
11
Alisha Ware
20
Katie Rood
22
Ciara Watling
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