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Brighton & Hove Albion shocked promotion hopefuls Portsmouth with a superb performance at Worthing on Wednesday, a 5-1 victory boosting their own Premier League survival hopes.
Two Lily Agg first half goals and three in the first twenty minutes of the second gave Albion a comfortable end to a game in which their defence had played well under intense Pompey pressure at times.
Brighton started brightly and took the lead when Sarah Kempson got free on the left and pulled the ball back for Agg to finish from ten yards. Portsmouth then dominated possession for long spells and equalised from a corner when the ball was put back across goal for Lysette Russell to net with a close range header. Another corner saw Brighton restore their lead, Agg bundling the ball in at the far post after 25 minutes
Still dominating territorially, Pompey nearly equalised again, firstly through Kirsty McGee from a Lucy Quinn free kick and then with the last attack of the half, when Rachel Rigby cut inside from the left and hit a twenty yard right foot effort on to the far post.
A defensive error on 48 minutes gave Brighton a two-goal cushion, Kim Whitcombe blocking a clearance thirty five yards from goal and running on to slot past Jodie Smith. Leeta Rutherford added a crucial fourth against her former club on 56 minutes when a corner was again allowed to reach the far post for a simple finish.
Pompey were still dangerous, having had sustained periods of pressure, several corners and they were denied by brave defending, for example a headed clearance by Rebecca Thompson, saving a certain goal from a far post cross on 64 minutes.
Kempson added to the Albion joy one minute later with a brilliant solo goal, dancing past two challenges before hitting a unstoppable 20-yarder into the top corner for a 5-1 lead. Failure to clear another low corner nearly led to a sixth Brighton goal immediately afterwards, only a goal line clearance saving a shaky Pompey defence.
This eventful and decisive ten minute period was followed by a flurry of substitutions as Albion sought to exploit the gaps left as Pompey pressed forward to the end in search of a miracle comeback. Charlotte Sole made a fine point blank save to deny Justine Lorton in the final minute to round off an outstanding team performance by Brighton.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Charlotte Sole, Rebecca Thompson, Sara Hinton, Natasha Wells, Carly Esposito, Katie McIntyre, Stevie Lamb, Leeta Rutherford, Kim Whitcombe, Lily Agg, Sarah Kempson. Subs: Faye Rabson, Katie Baker, Kim Stenning, Vicky Vickery, Lucy Mangan.
Portsmouth: Jodie Smith, Kerri Ryan, Jade Kirby, Kirsty McGee, Lauren Murphy, Lysette Russell, Lucy Quinn, Lindsey Roe, Gemma Hillier, Jusine Lorton, Rachel Rigby. Subs: Lou Worsfold, Tamsin Pibworth, Rosie Lane, Holly Francis.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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