Report by Connor Steel
Photograph from AFC Portchester Twitter
JUST 15 months after being founded, AFC Portchester Ladies are celebrating their first trophy as they won the Hampshire Women’s County League Division Three title on Sunday, June 7, clinching a two-one victory over second place AFC Varsity and sealing an unbeaten league season in the process in a disciplined away performance.
On a sunny afternoon in Romsey, it was Portchester who started the better with numerous chances in the first 20 minutes. However, the Varsity keeper (woman of the match) performed two brilliant saves to deny Shannen Woods and Ella Wilson alongside the calm collection from many low-ish crosses into the dangerous corridor of uncertainty.
Around the 25-minute mark, Varsity clicked into gear with some long passes causing chaos as Kayleigh Rogers’ pace behind the defence. She forced a reflex stop from Portchy keeper Roxy Roberts and then hit the crossbar with an effort just before the half time whistle; unlucky for both teams not to have scored with the first half ending goalless.
With heat and long grass causing some issues as the second half began, it took until the hour mark for the next clear cut-chance. From a Varsity corner, a long ball was met on the half volley from Portchester attacker Shannen Woods who fired across the keeper at her far post. A great finish that sparked celebrations from the entire bench!
It was two-nil to Portchester on 72 minutes after a sustained period of attacks, only interrupted slightly by substitutes from both sides. Shannen Woods was again involved as she received the ball on the right wing and crossed the ball to teenage forward Bella Longyear, who calmly slotted home from six yards with relative ease.
The final 15 minutes were dominated by Varsity who had nothing to lose given the league standings and their grip on second place; earning a consolation goal on 86 minutes from a corner. A goalmouth scramble saw the ball finally loop into the path of home striker Jade Collins who fired a low shot into the bottom corner despite the Portchy efforts.
However any hope of a Varsity comeback were blunted by a stubborn Portchester rear-guard, who survived until the final whistle with no chaotic moments. This two-one away victory at Hatches Form saw the Portchy ladies seal their 17th league victory out of 18 matches; an unbelievably formidable record for the orange clad invincibles.
A likely promotion to Hampshire Women’s County League Division Two awaits the Royals in 2021-22; which is a fine achievement after being founded in the early stages of lockdown 2020. With 45 goals scored and only four conceded in 18 games, there is plenty to celebrate and build upon next campaign as Portchester aim for two promotions.