Kempson hat-trick keeps Pompey promotion push on course

Round-up of the weekend football that survived the worst the weather could throw at it

Action from Copsewood v Portsmouth, Feb 22 2015 (Photo: Clive Jones)

Copsewood and Portsmouth played in dreadful conditions (Photo: Clive Jones)

Portsmouth are back in the driving seat as their promotion bandwagon continues to gather pace.

Their 5-0 win at injury-hit Copsewood Coventry lifted them above Premier League pacesetters Brighton into second place, level on points, but from a game fewer.

They are still four points behind Cardiff City – the only team to beat them this season – but have two games in hand, so with 10 games left, they are masters of their own destiny.

Sarah Kempson led the way in dreadful conditions at Coventry with a second-half hat-trick as Pompey’s goal glut took their goal difference beyond those of Brighton and Charlton Athletic, although still considerably behind Cardiff’s.

But they didn’t have it all their own way, and it took them until the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time to break down the Copsewood defence, Charley Wilson making the breakthrough.

Shannon Sievwright doubled Pompey’s lead after the break before Kempson helped herself to a hat-trick with three successive goals.

Copsewood were without several regulars, including top scorer Nicola Foskett, and suffered more injury problems in the first half before finally caving in after the break.

Manager Ryan Conneely told his club’s website: “To be missing four players before the game and then to have to replace another two inside the first half is not ideal, and in the end this resulted in the game being a write-off from a Copsewood perspective.”

Ironically, on a day when Pompey took their goal tally in all competitions this season to just seven short of 100, their talisman, Ini Umotong, failed to find the net for the first time since October – a run of 12 consecutive goalscoring matches.

Ini Umotong in action for Portsmouth v Copsewood, Feb 22 2015 (Photo: Clive Jones)

Ini Umotong, up against childhood friend Alice Belcher, failed to score for Portsmouth for the first time in 13 games (Photo: Clive Jones)

And half the centre-back pairing that kept the 21-goal striker quiet was Umotong’s childhoood friend, Alice Belcher.

She told Sent Her Forward: “We’re actually very close friends. We’ve known each other since we were eight.”

The 20-year-old added: “This season has allowed me to develop as a young centre-back, and I’ve marked some exceptional strikers.

“Ini definitely falls into that category, and I just applied what I have learned throughout the season.”

She is due to fly to Abuja next month for a training camp with the Nigeria national side ahead of the World Cup finals and the Olympic and Africa Games qualifiers, but should be available for Pompey’s League Cup semi-final against Sheffield next Sunday and their FAW Cup fourth-round tie against Millwall the following weekend.

Keeper to Plymouth’s rescue

The only other Premier League game to survive the weekend deluges was at Plymouth, where Argyle won for the first time this year, beating Keynsham Town 2-1 to climb to seventh in the table.

Ezme Wells and Emily Mousley got the goals that lift Argyle above Lewes, whose game was again hit by the weather, although they were also indebted to their goalkeeper, Michaela Phillips.

Charlton and West Ham to meet in cup final

Two of London’s top three Premier League sides will contest the Capital Cup final after West Ham United won 2-0 at Queens Park Rangers and holders Charlton Athletic beat Enfield Town, from Division One East, 1-0.

The Hammers goals came from Kelley Blanchflower and Emma Sherwood, while Amy Howlett got the only goal of the game as Charlton squeezed through to another Capital Cup final, having won each of the last two.

Shanklin shock Dons

Shanklin set up a Premier League semi-final showdown with Huddersfield Town after shocking much-fancied Milton Keynes Dons, the leaders of Division One South East.

Chloe Parkes scored the only goal of the game in Newport Pagnell to earn the Isle of Wight side a handsome reward at the end of their long journey.

However, the South West Division One side face an even longer haul, to West Yorkshire, in the next round. Not that they’ll mind that after battling their way to within 90 minutes of a cup final.

Six-goal Saints bow out in style

Their fellow South West Division One side, Southampton Saints, saw out their league season in style, winning their final league fixture, at Cheltenham Town, 6-4 to go – temporarily, at least – top of the league.

It wasn’t the best of starts for the Hampshire side as they headed west, when their minibus broke down. But they overcame the setback to fire in six of the best to achieve their highest score in their final fixture.

Super striker Jemma Tewkesbury helped herself to a hat-trick, to bring her tally to six in three games for Saints, and Jess Lewry and Becki Bath also scored. Their other was an own goal.

Saints still have the mouthwatering prospect of a Hampshire Cup final against Portmouth in April to look forward to, but manager Adam Lee said injuries had cost the club a genuine tilt at the title.

Gillingham in seventh heaven

Gillingham‘s reserve side turned the tables on Portsmouth, hammering them by the same 7-1 scoreline at Chatham Town as they had lost to the same opponents at the start of the season.

The Gills, who also lost their opening Premier Reserves League fixture to Brighton by the same score, were much changed from that opening game, fielding five players with considerable first-team experience against Pompey – just weeks after their manager, Jason Wright, criticised Brighton for doing similar against his team.

Ashlee Hincks, who has scored 15 goals for Gillingham’s first team this season, hit four, while Ellie Manning (15 appearances for the senior side), Lauren Phillips (19) and Charlotte Long (14) also got on the scoresheet.

First-team captain Charlotte Long also played in a move that raised some eyebrows among their opponents, for whom Megan Gratton scored what was scarcely a consolation.

Old Actonians go top

Old Actonians have become the team to catch in the London & South East Regional Women’s League, going top for the first time after winning 2-0 at Bexhill United.

Natalie Randall and Natasha Cree scored the west Londoners’ goals, which put them three points ahead of Fulham Foundation, whose promotion six-pointer at AFC Wimbledon was postponed, although they have played a game more.

Even if they win their remaining matches, Actonians can also still be overtaken by fourth-placed Carshalton Athletic and London Corinthians, way down in ninth, but the pair have a substantial number of games to make up.

And Wimbledon – currently third – are still also very much in contention.

Aylesford are back in trouble at the other end of the table after losing 2-0 to KIKK United, for whom Heather Staff scored twice. They remain 10th out of 12 but have played considerably more games than most of their rivals.

In the other game to survive the weather, Maidstone United beat fellow mid-table side Crawley Wasps 2-0.

Holders Carshalton are through to the final of the Surrey County Cup after beating Surrey Eagles 2-0 in their semi-final. Alison Hall and Kayley Smith scored the goals that ensure them a final tie against either South Park or AFC Wimbledon.

Another win for leaders

Dartford Royals now have a seven-point lead at the top of the South East Counties Premier Division after defeating Parkwood Rangers 3-1, for whom Emily Chapman scored the consolation goal.

Theirs was the only top-flight game in the South East Counties Women’s League to survive the weather, and the League Cup semi-final between Wivelsfield Green and Herne Bay was also among the casualties.

Johnson sisters torment Worthing again

Rachel and Hannnah Johnson, Abbey Rangers

Rachel and Hannah Johnson scored twice each for Abbey Rangers

Only one game survived in Division One West, too – Abbey Rangers becoming the scourge of Worthing for the second week running.

After their surprise 4-1 victory over leaders Worthing Minors last week opened up the title race, the Surrey side heaped even more pressure on the top side today, beating Worthing Town 4-2 to narrow the gap to 10 points with two games in hand.

Top scorer Rachel Johnson hit two more to take her tally for the season to 21, and her sister, Hannah, also got a double as Abbey moved four points ahead of Seahaven Harriers, for a long time Minors biggest rivals. But Harriers have games in hand of both.

Town actually went one better than Minors, scoring twice against Abbey, through Charlotte Hoskins and Emily Wadge.

Prince of Wales book semi-final place

Charlton Athletic Development ensured it remains a three-way battle for the Division One East title by defeating Castle Colts 2-1. Their goals came from Katie Cowcher and Ellie Richards, with Pauline Hontanosas replying for the home side.

Ashford, whose match against Faversham Town Elizabethans was called off, remain top, but in prime position, just a point behind with a game in hand, are Prince of Wales, who were in Chairman’s Cup action.

They claimed another prize scalp, defeating Premier Division Crockenhill 5-4 on penalties in their quarter-final after the game finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Caz Rennie had put the Canterbury team ahead, but Crockenhill equalised before half-time, and it was left to the penalty takers to decide it.

Vicky King, Jus Newton, Danni Ritson, Charlotte Scamp and Maria Wharfe all converted theirs, but goalkeeper Jade Brooks crucially saved one of Crockenhill’s to take Prince of Wales to within one game of their second cup final of the season. They are also in the final of the Kent Plate.

Margate revival continues

Margate continued their sensational transformation with their third victory in succession – a 4-1 victory over Anchorians 3rds taking their unbeaten run to four games. Kara Richardson scored two and Harriet Alvarado and Beth Cooper one each.

The east Kent side lost five of their first six fixtures, conceding 40 goals in the process. Their record since January 11 is: 2-2, 7-0, 5-2 at second-placed Barming and 4-1.

With Sussex particularly badly hit by the weekend rain, the entire county women’s and girls’ league programme was wiped out.

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