Pompey capture goalkeeper Beazley from Lewes

Another Sent Her Forward exclusive

Gemma Hillier, of Portsmouth, and Michelle Beazley, of Lewes (Photo: Jordan Hampton

Michelle Beazley has joined Gemma Hillier and the rest of the Portsmouth team, initially as back-up goalkeeper (Photo: Jordan Hampton)

Portsmouth have reinforced their Super League-chasing squad with the shock signing of experienced Lewes goalkeeper Michelle Beazley.

Manager Perry Northeast tied up a transfer-deadline-day deal to bring the highly-rated ‘keeper to the club – but he insists current number one Sadie Blakely remains first choice for the rest of the season.

“She knows her role. She knows she is coming in this season fundamentally as back-up for Sadie, who has been doing exceptionally well already in goal.”

But he acknowledged it will be a different story next season, when both ‘keepers will be expected to compete for the number-one shirt.

“I don’t think any ‘keeper would sign just to sit on the bench for ever,” said Northeast. “But Sadie Blakely is in fantastic form – the form of her life – at the moment. So it would take a lot right now to knock her off number one.”

In fact, with Blakely in goal, Pompey have conceded the fewest number of league goals of all 12 Premier League Southern sides – the tally of 13 includes seven in the opening-day defeat to Cardiff City.

Northeast sees the acquisition of a second top-class goalkeeper as a valuable weapon in the club’s armoury as they prepare for a hectic league-and-cup run-in, with five games in 15 days.

He said: “It’s hard enough finding one exceptional ‘keeper. We’ve already got one in Sadie, one of the best in the country.

“To have two now, it gives us this peace of mind, that edge, because if the goalkeeper gets injured quite often the season can crumble.”

‘Great character’

He said his players, whom he frequently says thrive on their excellent team spirit, had reacted “very well” to Beazley’s arrival.

Sadie Blakely in action for Portsmouth v Millwall (Photo: Matt Underwood)

Sadie Blakely has been in the form of her life, according to her manager (Photo: Matt Underwood)

“She’s a great, experienced character to have around. She’s trained already. She’s a lovely girl, a great character. Hopefully, she’ll fit in with the rest of the group.”

Northeast added: “Sadie herself would even admit that we need that back-up option, and Michelle comes as that back-up goalkeeper for the remainder of this season.”

Beazley, who made Sent Her Forward‘s Premier League team of the season last year, has played nine times for Lewes this term, but not since November.

She declined to elaborate on the reasons for her departure at this stage, or her absence from the Lewes team, where she was the undisputed first choice. But she told Sent Her Forward: “I still have plenty of love for that club.”

Northeast said Pompey contacted Lewes “in the right way” about Beazley’s availability. “John Donoghue [the manager] was very amicable about it and understood the situation we are in.

“It was deadline-day stuff. They knew where we were coming from, and we were lucky it came off.”

Beazley – and Blakely – are included in Portsmouth’s squad for tomorrow’s Premier League clash at Charlton.

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