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Pompey Women 2 Cheltenham 0 (AET)

Bradley and Bath strikes send Blues into third round

4 April 2021

Pompey Women
Photo: Kieron Louloudis

Pompey Women booked their place in the third round of the FA Cup, but needed extra-time to see off a plucky Cheltenham side at Westleigh Park.

Skipper Jade Bradley finally broke the deadlock with a corner that swung directly into the net, while substitute Becki Bath made sure of the win.

It means that the Blues now have a home tie with Gillingham to look forward to, while the winners of that game face a mouth-watering trip to Super League giants Arsenal.

Jay Sadler made three changes from the side that eased to victory against MK Dons in the league 112 days earlier.

Kat Cunningham, Jade Widdows and Tamsin de Bunsen all returned to the starting line-up, with Mia Adaway, Shannon Albuery and Bath dropping to the bench.

The hosts made a bright start, with pressure from Widdows leading to a hurried clearance from former Robyn Levett.

Spotting the former Pompey keeper out of position, de Bunsen tried to hook the loose ball home from long-range, but it bounced narrowly over.

Cheltenham were struggling to deal with a series of corners, one of which was headed just over by Jazz Younger.

And the defender was then called into action to deal with a flag-kick at the other end, finding herself well placed to clear from the line.

Rebekah Tonks and de Bunsen were both unable to get enough power on shots, as the Blues began to get back into the ascendancy.

They were passing the ball around nicely and enjoying plenty of possession, trying to unlock the door.

Pompey were still winning plenty of corners and Ava Rowbotham headed past the post from one of them.

The best chance of the half then saw Kat Cunningham drive purposefully down the left and send in a low delivery.

Widdows slid in to try to poke over the line, but was only able to divert the ball straight into Levett’s arms.

The hosts were dictating play, although Cheltenham had plenty of players back to protect their keeper.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Cheltenham 0

The visitors were constantly looking to play out from the back and it almost cost them just after the restart.

Widdows came close to dispossessing Levett as she dithered on the ball, but the keeper was eventually able to dive on top of it.

The deluge of corners kept coming and the hosts were sending in plenty of dangerous crosses, but they just would not land for a blue-shirted player.

Sadler looked to inject some fresh attacking energy just before the hour mark, with Cunningham making way for Adaway.

But clear-cut chances remained at a premium and the tie looked finely balanced as the seconds ticked down.

An effort from de Bunsen did fly narrowly wide on 69 minutes, with the forward doing well to dig out a shot after being teed-up by Katie James.

That proved to be her final piece of meaningful action, with Bath and Albuery on to replace her and Widdows.

It was midfielder Rowbotham who tried her luck soon after, though, collecting a pass from Tonks and firing over.

But that proved to be the final chance of note before the referee blew his whistle to signal that extra-time would be required.

After 90 Minutes: Pompey 0 Cheltenham 0

There was a worrying sight when Levett went to ground clutching her knee after taking a goal-kick and had to limp off the pitch.

Her replacement Molly Ripley soon came to Cheltenham’s rescue, however, diving to her left to push behind Bath’s long-range strike.

But she was beaten from the resulting corner on 101 minutes, as a BRADLEY cross swung straight into the net.

The lead might have been doubled before the interval, but Adaway was unable to keep her effort down when Abi Mason’s centre was not dealt with.

Adaway made amends just seconds later, however, by finding fellow substitute BATH on the edge of the box and she made no mistake with a fierce finish.

And the hosts saw out the second period of extra-time with relative ease to secure safe passage through to round three.

Pompey: Haughton; Rowe, Younger, Tonks; Bridge (Mason 89), Rowbotham (Jones 104), Bradley (c), Cunningham (Adaway 59); Widdows (Albuery 72), de Bunsen (Bath 72), James
Subs: Reynolds, Ingram, Currie, True

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