MR| U12 v Portsmouth ITC 15/9 5-4 W

As the girls warmed up under a bright blue sky for their first competitive match of the season, a pitch invasion almost prevented play – some cows wandered towards the pitch from a neighbouring field (but were soon moo-ved away by some helpful dads. 🙂 Sorry).

But the drama didn’t stop there in this nail-biting first league game for the newly-formed U12s.

Southampton kicked off and gave Chloe a touch before Portsmouth gained control. But it was short-lived as Brooke cleared the ball out for a throw and Southampton pushed forwards.

Portsmouth defence won the ball back but, in what was an end-to-end opening few minutes, Darcey made a great pass to Chloe, leading to a cracking shot at goal, which hit the woodwork.

A good ball up the wing from Brooke to Pippa followed as they both worked hard to keep the ball. Doing so led to another accurate cross from Chloe towards Darcey who unselfishly left the ball for her well-positioned team-mate Mo, giving Mo a perfect opportunity to score the first goal of the season on 3'.

Strong defence from the Southampton girls followed as Michelle turned to get the ball upfield towards Pippa who battled hard to keep possession.

Brooke intercepted a break by Portsmouth and placed the ball in towards the goal and, before long Darcey was in position to take a shot, deflected by a defender stood in the goal mouth. But Mo took control of the ball and had a shot, which came off the goalkeeper. Michelle won the ball back in for Mo who went in again for the second ball and, just six minutes in, Mo scored – her second goal of the match. 2-0 to Southampton.

The first bit of action for the Southampton defence came in the 7th minute which saw some good defending on the wing by Brooke and a strong goal kick from goalkeeper, Emma Stait. But 60 seconds later in the 8th minute and Portsmouth had placed the goal in the top right of the net, making the score 2-1.

Back down the Portsmouth end, Michelle made two good strong clearances, followed by tackles from Brooke and Sophie, before another great save and subsequent throw by Emma to get the ball back up to Chloe.

A flurry or corners for both teams followed, with a great cross from Chloe towards Mo, who made a great effort and stretched as best she could, but her foot didn’t quite find the ball for a hatrick.

Darcey made a promising run and knocked the ball wide to Chloe, but it was intercepted by a Portsmouth’s number 8 – the player Southampton later chose as their ‘girl of the game.’

Eighteen minutes in and another great ball by Pippa gave Darcey a clear run but the whistle was blown for offside.

Just one minute later the whistle blew again, but this time it was for a goal as Portsmouth scored an equaliser in the 19th minute. 2-2.

Mo got the ball back up to Pippa who then came off to be replaced by Esme, before

Darcey won the ball from the corner, but was surrounded by defenders. She made a quick touch to Esme Taylor who scored a screamer of a goal from quite far back in the 25th minute. The ball hurtled past four defenders, straight into the bottom corner. 3-2 to Southampton.

Robyn Hagues came on for Brooke Suddaby as the game raced towards half time and Sophie and Michelle made strong tackles to win the ball. This gave Esme and Mo more chances to make some great runs and cross the ball in, before Portsmouth regained control to make another striking goal attempt. Emma made another great save and goal kick, towards Chloe who made a great turn with Darcey in the box, and took a shot, which went wide.

Possession was relatively equal in the first half with Portsmouth quicker to the ball at times, but some strong defence, great saves by goalkeeper Emma and some strong runs by the Southampton attack resulted in a 3-2 score-line at half time.

One minute into the second half and an early shot by Portsmouth found Emma’s hands. Just one minute later and two minutes in to the second half and Darcey received a great ball in from Chloe, who popped the ball into the net in the 32nd minute, scoring her first goal of the game. 4-2 to Southampton.

Soon Sophie chased the ball down and a great cross in by Portsmouth led to a strong clearance by Robyn, before Mo made a run up field.

More goal attempts by Portsmouth followed but were collected by goalkeeper Emma and a great throw by Michelle in to Chloe looked promising, but soon the ball was heading back down field.

An amazing ball from Robyn found Darcey who, five minutes into the second half scored a 35th minute goal as she found the bottom left hand corner of the net. 5-2 to Southampton.

Poppy Baxter came on for goal-scorer Mo and some great communication from the Southampton side ensured the ball was left for Emma to collect. Great clearances from Esme and Robyn followed before Emma made another save. The pressure was on.

Sophie battled to win possession and a strong ball in from Esme to Darcey led to a throw in from Chloe. Poppy then battled to secure the ball alongside Victoria and Pippa Sproul came back on for Sophie, giving Victoria a chance to cover the left hand side of the pitch.

A great ball to Darcey from Emma’s goal kick via Chloe led to another shot at goal by Darcey, saved by the goalkeeper and kept on by Chloe for another corner.

A shot by Portsmouth in the 40th minute went wide before the away-side brought on three fresh subs.

Some good defending by Robyn followed with Poppy sticking close to Portsmouth’s star player and a sharp cross by Portsmouth found Emma’s hands once more. A Southampton handball then created a free kick to Portsmouth, resulting in another save by Emma.

More great communication and a header by Victoria saw the ball travel towards Pippa before Portsmouth ramped up the pressure and made three successive attempts at goal, saved beautifully by Emma each time. Emma kicked the ball out of danger to Chloe and Pippa who battled to keep possession before Portsmouth made a break and scored in the 47th minute, making the score 5-3.

Two minutes later and, despite some attacking action from Chloe and Darcey upfront and defensive action by Poppy who won the ball back and Victoria who cleared the ball away, Portsmouth soon brought the score to 5-4 with another goal.

Pippa kicked the ball out of the danger zone but Portsmouth soon gained a free kick. Their ball travelled straight towards Emma, who bravely came out for the ball once more. Some great defending by Victoria and Michelle followed and Esme cleared the ball into the crowd.

Sophie Moore came back on for goal-scorer Esme Taylor and a corner cross by Portsmouth travelled wide before a dropped ball led to another free kick for Portsmouth. This saw some great defending by Victoria and another shot, cleared out of danger by Mo. Brooke came back on for Poppy in the final minutes and Emma bravely strode out to pick up the ball amid a Portsmouth attack to prevent an equaliser.

An incredible first competitive match of the season for the fledgling side with Emma Stait deservedly chosen as Portsmouth’s girl of the game for her brave saves, strong-will all-round great performance.

Result: Southampton 5 - Portsmouth 4

Goals: Mo 2, Esme 1, Darcey 2

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