Ladies lose out

Julia Setford insisted her West Ham United Ladies team would bounce back from the disappointment of a 2-0 FA Tesco Women's Premier League South defeat by Portsmouth.

First-half goals from Tasmin Pipworth and Justine Lorton put paid to West Ham's chances of taking over at the top of the table on a disappointing Sunday afternoon at Ship Lane. Emma Thomas hit a post and Nat Grafton also went close during the second period, but the hosts could not force their way back into the match.

However, with leaders Keynsham Town losing, defeat means the Hammers remain just a point off the top of the table with six matches remaining.

Despite all six of those matches and this Sunday's FA Women's Cup quarter-final against Barnet being away from home, manager Setford said her players would be ready for action.

"We didn't come out very well," admitted Setford. "We started a bit slowly and sat back. They came at us and we just weren't ourselves, which was disappointing. If we'd played like we did in the second half in the first half we wouldn't have been in the situation we were in. It's something we've got to learn from.

"Everyone ups their game and they want to beat us because we play good football. We got a little bit lax and stepped off the pace and we can't afford to do that. We've got a lovely pitch so we should be able to play good football and take the game to the opposition, so it's just a shame that we didn't do it on Sunday.

"You've got to take each game as it comes and the players have got to concentrate on the game in front of them. You can't be thinking about the FA Cup and get ahead of yourselves. You've got to deal with the here and now and then move on.

"It's another big game for us next week and one I know the girls won't need to get up for. They'll be ready to go. It was just a lesson learnt on Sunday. We got beaten by a very good side. I think we're the best team in the league but I think Portsmouth are with us and all credit to them, they did really well.

"I'd love to play at home every single week because it suits us because we've got the best pitch in the league, but we'll be away now.

"We've got an FA Cup quarter-final against Barnet and I'm really looking forward to us putting our stamp on that game. A semi-final is a real possibility for us and I hope it will be.

"After that, we've got quite a few away games but wherever we go we'll take our full-strength squad and fight until the very end to get promotion this year."

While West Ham sit second in the league table, Colchester United, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic are all within striking distance of the top-two.

Setford knows her players will have to keep their focus and get back to winning ways quickly if they are to win the title and gain promotion to National Division for the first time in the club's history.

"Every week, Portsmouth and Charlton are a threat to us. Portsmouth are a footballing side. We've given them a good surface to play on and they've played their football and punished us.

"It's very difficult to take because I know we can play better than that and we should have given them a better game.

"Credit to us because we didn't lie down at 2-0 and we took it to them in the second half and could have got a couple of goals if we'd put our chances away, but their keeper was good on the day. They just did a job on us."

Sunday sees West Ham travel to Barnet for an FA Women's Cup quarter-final tie. The Bees, who compete in the National Division, have enjoyed a fine season and will take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Women's Premier League Cup final on Thursday evening.

The tie will kick-off at 2pm at Hanwell Town FC. For directions click here.