West Ham United Ladies 1-2 Portsmouth Ladies
West Ham United suffered their first defeat of the season as they were knocked out of the FA Women's Tesco League Cup by Portsmouth on Sunday.
The home side were beaten in the cruelest of fashions after going down to a late goal despite having the better of an entertaining game. Portsmouth took the lead in the first half but Lindsey Morgan got the home side back in it with a brave header after the break. However, it was the team from the south coast who had the last say with an 88th-minute winner.
Manager Tony Marshall named an unchanged team for the third game in a row as the ladies looked to build on their nine-game unbeaten start as Porstmouth quickly set out their attacking intentions, sending several long balls into the opposing half which were comfortably dealt with by United's defenders.
The first chance of note was a break which led to Nat Grafton forcing a point-blank save from the Portsmouth goalkeeper. Soon after Tracey Duxbury set up Sam Pittuck, who fired just wide. Pittuck then turned provider, swinging a dangerous ball into the box which captain Morgan just failed to get to with only the goalkeeper to beat. Despite the chances, United had Paris Smith in goal to thank for going in level at half-time as she pulled off an incredible one-handed save from the Portsmouth No9.
Portsmouth took the lead with almost the first attack of the second half. Another long ball forward led to a corner, which was swung in dangerously. Somehow it eluded everyone and found its way over the line from practically underneath the crossbar. Marshall tried to change things round by bringing on Claire Rogers on the right and pushing Grafton up front.
The positive move had an effect as several corners and some good chances came and went. However, the deserved equaliser eventually arrived when Jess Barling swung a corner in and Morgan stole in at the near post to plant a firm header past the visiting goalkeeper. The home side pressed for a winner but were hit on the break as a long-ball from the back somehow found its way through to a Portsmouth striker who finished smartly to ensure it was her team that progressed to the next round.
Despite the late heartbreak, Marshall was pleased by what he saw. He said: "Again we have matched one of the strongest sides in the league and either side could have won it. We wish Portsmouth all the best in the next round. I thought again through the middle of the park we were excellent. Sam [Pittuck] and Lindsey [Morgan] had their best game together.
"Our back four were excellent in dealing with a very big direct side. Zoe [Marshall] broke up a lot of their attacks and Tracey [Duxbury] had her best game this season so there are lots of positives to take to next week's game against Millwall - the title favorites. We will see how far we really have come again in another home game against a side full of very experienced players".
West Ham United Ladies: Paris Smith, Jade Dempster, Carly Roache, Rosy Sullivan, Jess Barling, Alex Keown, Zoe Marshall, Sam Pittuck, Lindsey Morgan (Capt), Nat Grafton, Tracey Duxbury
Subs: Julia Setford, Dani Hoy, Jo Washio