Ladies beat Pompey

West Ham United Ladies secured a first-ever win over Portsmouth to climb to third in the FA Tesco Women's Premier League Southern Division table.

The Hammers, who recently lifted the Essex County Cup, were in fine form again at Fareham Town FC, where a brace from the division's top scorer Sam Pittuck saw Tony Marshall's side secure a 2-1 win over Pompey.

Naming an unchanged side from the 5-0 league victory at Ipswich Town a fortnight previously, West Ham knew they would be thoroughly tested by a Portsmouth team they had never beaten.

That test became even more severe when defender Rosy Sullivan deflected a hopeful cross past Paris Smith to give the hosts the lead after just five minutes. But, showing the tenacity that has served them so well this season, West Ham stormed back and dominated proceedings for almost the entire remainder of the first half.

It was complete one-way traffic as Ruby Southgate, Holly Griffin and Gemma Shepherd painted pretty pictures with their passing down the right wing. In the centre of midfield, Katie Holmes and Pittuck began to take control of the game, supported by the hard-working Lindsey Morgan.

As such, it was no surprise when West Ham drew level on 25 minutes when Pittuck ran on to Shepherd's flick-on from Jess Barling's free-kick before lobbing the Portsmouth goalkeeper.

Having equalised, the Hammers continued to press and played some of their best football of the season. Griffin continued to cause Pompey untold problems with her power and pace down the right flank.

Morgan hit a post from Shepherd's clever reverse pass before Pittuck was denied by the home goalkeeper, but the winning goal was not far away. A slick passing move ended with Pittuck collecting the ball outside the penalty area, bursting between two centre-backs and planting it into the bottom right-hand corner.

Marshall rang the changes in the second half, replacing Griffin with Sophie Walker and Nat Grafton coming on for Tracey Duxbury. Grafton shot wide before Pittuck headed a Barling corner narrowly over the crossbar.

At the other end, Smith recovered from her early shock to produce one of her finest performances of the current campaign. Her handling in grabbing a succession of high crosses out of the sky was exemplary, while in front of her Carly Roache and Barling put in a superb shift. Pompey did come close when a header landed on the crossbar, but Roache was in the right place to clear the rebound to safety.

Afterwards, Marshall was pleased with his team's collective performance, saying: "After a bad first 15 minutes during which we just didn't get going, we played some of our best football of the season against one of the strongest sides in the league. It was a real team effort. Some people sacrificed parts of their natural game in the second half to defend and we would have definitely conceded last season.

"Gemma was outstanding. Her work-rate and first touch were a real lesson for the younger players, and Sam's finishing was different class. Gemma and Sam really have developed a great relationship. Katie tackled all game and I must also give a special mention to Paris and Carly who really kept their cool. This is a massive win and puts us three points behind leaders Charlton with six games left."