We welcomed US Portsmouth to Chapel Gate to begin our Reserves Hampshire Division 1 campaign.
US Portsmouth are actually the only team to have beaten us inside 90 minutes in a competitive game since the reserves started in 19/20 when we met them in the Hampshire cup semi-final and they were a division above us. It didn’t take long for the Reserves to get a swift reminder this was no longer Division 2 or 3.
50 seconds on the clock and we were 0-1 down. A through ball found their striker who got to the ball before Owen and finished well.
One thing this team has is resilience, they didn’t panic, concentrated on the game at hand and after a shaky first 10 minutes settled into the game. It was the ever reliable Lander that would bring us level on 13 minutes, following up a well saved Curtin effort. 1-1
Knapton then found herself with a good chance on 18 when Lander found her with a good pass but with time on her side she didn’t catch the shot as she would have wished.
We didn’t wait long to take the lead though, De Angelis, making her competitive debut in senior football, won the ball in the air from a USP goal kick on the 19th minute, Lander dummied the ball in to Mosleys path and she made no mistake with the finish. 2-1
Mosley almost got her second a minute later when she was played through again but the USP GK was quick off her line and saved Mosleys attempted lob.
Taylor then put Curtin through on the 22nd minute and she opened her account for the 21/22 season with a good finish to make it 3-1
We were beginning to get on top in the game but US Portsmouth weren’t about to let us have it all our own way and a couple of mistakes later they were level. First a misjudged cross along the ground found its way in at the back post on the 34th minute and less than a minute later a misplaced pass from the back went straight to USP who lobbed Owen from 30 yds out. 3-3
The reaction was instant a minute later we had the lead again, Curtin putting Mosley through who made another superb finish to make it 4-3.
We could have taken a bigger lead in at half time had it not been for the USP GK. She made a superb save to deny Mosleys hat-trick on the 44th minute tipping a powerful effort on to the bar before White hit the post from a tight angle on the rebound. Then 2 minutes into injury time denied Knapton a rare headed goal from point blank after a great Taylor corner.
We were attacking well but defensive mistakes were costing us and it felt that 1 goal in front was never going to be enough. If we thought the first half started badly, the second half was even worse. 20 seconds on the clock and it was 4-4.
Gard, in two minds if she should pass the ball or clear after controlling it on the edge of our box, was tackled before she could decide and they made no mistake clear through.
However, as with the 3-3 equaliser the reaction was instant, Mosley capitalising on a poor clearance and lobbed the Gk from 25 yds out to give us the lead and her a hat trick on the 47th minute 5-4.
Parsons was on for her competitive debut for us and found herself through one on one just before the hour but the GK made another superb save and then saved from point blank range again from the resulting corner. Parsons tenacity was causing problems up top and when she was pulled down 40yds out 65 minutes in Taylor stepped up with one thing on her mind. A decent attempt from 20yds out in the first half gave her the confidence to have a another go and she put it in the top corner, giving the Gk no chance, to make it 6-4.
Parsons wasn’t to be denied for much longer though, 67 minutes on the clock, Knapton volleyed their goal kick back to towards their goal and Parsons ran through to finish very well with a first time effort across the GK into the far corner to give her a debut goal. 7-4
While the score was looking a bit safer, US Portsmouth were still causing us problems. Owen had to make a smart save on the 70th to maintain our 3 goal lead. We then had a let off on the 78th when the ball went through Gard at the back, they ran through but could only fire wide under pressure from Owen. We then lost Wetton to an ankle injury. The young player was also making her competitive debut into women’s football but as she twisted her ankle went from under her. After some lengthy treatment on the sidelines she went off to Poole Hospital, thankfully it wasn’t as bad as first feared and we should see her back in 3/4 weeks. Get well soon Saskia
We kept working hard, another debutant, Dennis was having a great time battling in the middle and was unlucky to not get herself an assist after a great bit of work in the middle. The game came to a close but there was just enough time for one more chance for them, through one on one Owen made herself big and they fired over to finish 7-4.
A great start to what is going to be a competitive season for our Reserves.
Player of the match: Charlotte Taylor
Managers Player: Kiera De Angelis
Rory: Emily Gard