Royals’ women add promotion to cup double

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER LADIES ended an outstanding 2021-22 campaign as they sealed promotion to the Hampshire County Women League top flight last Sunday, adding to a double of cup successes season as they continue to increase their reputation since being founded during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

The team, led by manager Mark Dugan, finished second in Division Two of the Hampshire League behind Eastleigh in the Community FC Reserves Women, cementing this place last weekend by winning one-nil away at fourth place AFC Varsity Women with the solitary goal from Lynsey Crewe sealing all three points.

But although the victory was narrow it will rank as one of the best this campaign, having travelled to Southampton with only ten players due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Portchester were also dealt a further blow as an injury in the warm-up meant they played the match with nine on the pitch, but showed fantastic fight and character to keep the title race going until the final whistle before being confirmed runners-up by officials.

They were made to wait until Tuesday for ratification however, with Eastleigh’s final match being awarded a walkover for the Spitfires due to their opponents pulling out. The three points gained mean the Southampton-based side finish on 39 points, two above Portchester with each team playing fourteen games as part of the league; the Royals ending with twelve wins, one draw and a single defeat from a highly productive season.

Promotion to Division One will see Portchester play games against local teams such as United Services Portsmouth, Bournemouth Sports, QK Southampton and Winchester City Ladies throughout the 2022-23 season set to start in early September. The team have already announced a programme of pre-season games to be played in July and August, with the announcement of fixtures and dates available in due course.

This latest success comes just two weeks after Portchester won the Women’s FA County Cup with a three-nil victory over Eastleigh, goals from Eilidh CUrrie and two from Charmaine True sealing the win in Basingstoke on May 8. Two weeks prior the Royals had won the Hampshire Invitational League Cup final in Winklebury following a comfortable six-nil victory over Bursledon Ladies on April 24; both played in sunny conditions.

And the Portchester Ladies are hoping to build their squads for next season; including a development side and Under-18s as they look to inspire the women’s game as England prepares to host the European Championships later this summer. To help this process open trials have been confirmed on June 6 and June 15, both running from 6pm to 7:30pm with readers asked to call 07799 741 219 for further information or to register their interest. Entrants must be aged 16 years old or older to be selected due to health and safety.

PICTURED BY GRAHAM SCAMBLER PHOTOGRAPHY: Portchester celebrate scoring versus Eastleigh in cup final back in May as they sealed two trophies and promotion in a successful year.