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Chelsea edged their way into the Third Round of the Premier League Cup with a second half Leanne Sanderson goal against Portsmouth, who made them work very hard at Fareham on Sunday.
The Southern Division team gave a highly impressive performance, threatening to score on a number of occasions and having the courage and confidence to play their normal short passing game against a full strength Chelsea outfit.
The Londoners had the majority of possession but were mainly restricted to long range shooting in the first half by a very disciplined Pompey back four, helped by excellent cover from midfield. An Eartha Pond free kick, and two powerful Sanderson shots which all went close, were the nearest the Blues came to breaking the deadlock.
The best move of the half led to Pompey's best chance. Justine Lorton took control in her own six yard box and played her way out of defence with Cassie Thorp, she then flighted a 40-yard pass over the full back to Zoe Nash who was denied at the last moment by a great recovery tackle by Sophie Perry as she was about to shoot. Pompey also threatened from two Thorp corners and fully deserved to be level at the break.
Chelsea stepped up their game in the second half with Sanderson and Emma Whitter prominent up front and sub Dunia Susi dangerous on the right. It took a great save from Louise Worsfold to deny Chelsea the opener, diving to turn away a close range shot destined for the bottom corner. Again, Portsmouth had one golden opportunity to take the lead, this time from a corner as a goalbound Lorton shot from the edge of the box was cleared off the line.
Pompey's task was made harder when skipper Kirsty McGee was shown a straight red card for a two footed tackle on the hour, but the team worked even harder to deny Chelsea clear chances.
The winner was a bizarre affair as a cross beyond the far post was bundled in by a Sanderson mishit into the ground which rebounded onto the underside of the bar and dropped just over the line. Pompey tried to find a way back into the game but did not really threaten Siobhan Chamberlain's goal again and Worsfold once more distinguished herself with good saves to prevent Chelsea from ever being comfortable.
Portsmouth can take great heart from a mature and disciplined display from their back four and the skill of Nash, Lorton, Thorp and Gemma Hillier which kept the Chelsea defence busy throughout. Leeta Rutherford and McGee meanwhile matched their international opponents in midfield. Chelsea worked hard but did not have the precision finishing which have marked both their previous outings this season, but one goal proved to be enough.
Portsmouth: Louise Worsfold, Kim Hier, Lauren Murphy, Kerry Fisher, Jade Kirby, Leeta Rutherford, Kirsy McGee, Gemma Hillier, Justine Lorton, Zoe Nash, Cassie Thorp. Subs: Lucy Keil, Katie Poore, Cally Beaumont, Becky Miles, Becky Hunt.
Chelsea: Siobhan Chamberlain, Sophie Perry, Eartha Pond, Shelby Hills, Kylie Davies, Casey Stoney, Becky Jane, Dani Buet, Claire Rafferty, Emma Whitter, Lianne Sanderson. Subs: Frankie Gibbs, Laura Cooper, Dunia Susi, Sarah Kempson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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