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Barnet 2 Portsmouth 1
Barnet claimed a place in the Final of the Premier League Cup with a 2-1 win over Portsmouth at Uxbridge.
An early goal underlined a dominant opening by the National Division team but it was Pompey who controlled much of the half, creating several good chances to equalise. A second goal on 70 minutes gave the Bees a cushion which they needed late on when a penalty gave the underdogs hope. Barnet had had a number of chances as Portsmouth pushed on but they almost paid the price for missing them when Gemma Hillier nearly grabbed the equaliser as the match entered added time.
Portsmouth were without Justine Lorton, Alex Windell and the suspended Lauren Murphy from the side which had beaten Sunderland in the quarter finals but their replacements all performed admirably on the day. Barnet set up camp in the Portsmouth half from the whistle and had nearly gone ahead even before Stacey Sowden's third minute opener. A Cheryl Wiliams corner found Sowden on the far edge of the box and she was able to turn and guide a right foot shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Jess Trimnell lobbed a first time shot against the bar as the Bees continued to test the young Pompey back four. Williams' accurate delivery of set pieces forced a number of scrambles in the six yard box as Pompey held on. It was not until the 17th minute that the visitors threatened with Shelly Cox feeding Hillier whose low cross just evaded Rosie Bidder at the far post but Pompey gained control of midfield and for the rest of the half played with fluency and purpose to dominate the home side for much of the time.
Chances for Pompey came and went - Cherie Rowlands turned away a Lyndsey Roe shot, Hillier drove inches wide and then rounded the keeper, just failing to score from a tight angle. Rowlands punched a Cox corner clear from under her bar, Lucy Quinn forced another save from the Barnet keeper but the last chance was the best as Hillier broke clear in front of goal but placed her shot wide from ten yards. A brave Trimnell header just wide from a Williams free kick was just about the only real threat offered by Barnet in the last thirty minutes of the opening half and they needed the break to regroup and regain a hold on the match.
The adjustments seemed to have worked as Pompey were not able to control the opening minutes as clearly and Sowden used her pace to break clear and test Worsfold from the edge of the area. An even encounter was developing with both sides threatening but Barnet looking slightly more dangerous, especially when Sowden dropped deeper to start moves.
On 70 minutes, Barnet keeper Rowlands was adjudged to have saved a corner with an acrobatic kick, Pompey lost the ball from the resultant throw in, Sowden then broke clear and fed Trimnell who finished well from the left edge of the area. Barnet looked to have gained the upper hand and went close to adding a third when Sowden beat the keeper to a through ball but could not finish from a tight angle and Danielle Murphy went close from distance
Five minutes remained when Hillier was bundled over just inside the area and Kirsty McGee reduced the deficit from the spot. Renewed hope spurred Pompey on and when a cross found Hillier five yards out she controlled and dug out a shot on the turn but Rowlands dropped onto the ball on her line to snuff out the last chance for the visitors.
Barnet will meet Nottingham Forest in both club's first ever national final, a repeat of last year's FA Women's Cup quarter final won 3-2 by the Bees in a fine contest. Barnet have won every match in their Cup campaign but this will be their first National Division opposition. Portsmouth have promotion to aim for and the County Cup to retain but must feel that they had chances to have gone further than their first ever semi final.
Barnet: Cherie Rowlands, Jade Dempster, Sally Wade, Abbie Prosser, Leanne Reidy, Gemma Rudman, Emma Davies, Danielle Murphy, Stacey Sowden, Jess Trimnell, Cheryl Williams. Subs: Vicky Boardman, Davina Smith, Zoe Lance, Danielle Scanlon, Kate O'Leary.
Portsmouth: Louise Worsfold, Lysette Russell, Jade Kirby, Molly Clark, Laura Heron, Kirsty McGee, Rosie Bidder, Lyndsey Roe, Gemma Hillier, Lucy Quinn, Shelly Cox. Subs: Sally Anne Thomson, Becky Hunt, Chloe Parkes, Lucy Keil, Fiona McMillan.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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