We take a deep dive into the FAWNL Southern Premier Division side Portsmouth.
With the 2022/23 season fast approaching, we sat down with Ian from Pompey Women Vlogs to get the scoop on all things Pompey Women. Covering everything from Ian’s hopes and expectations for the new season to how the Euros have already had a positive impact at Portsmouth.
How has your pre-season gone so far?
Good. We have played a mix of sides across the tiers. Jay [Sadler] has had several new signings to gel into the squad so it was important to get some games under their belts. The 3 recent games against Brighton, Palace, and Swansea were all really tough games but there were plenty of positives to take.
The game against Brighton saw a record-breaking crowd of nearly 3,000 fans at Fratton Park. Try to put into words what that means to you and the club.
I won’t lie, between that game and the Euros it almost broke me emotionally. We have followed Pompey Women for only 5 years but in that time it’s become a huge part of our lives. Constantly being told “Women can’t play football” and “nobody cares” does eventually wear on even those with the thickest of skin.
To walk down Wembley way with 88,000 fans and see over 3000 at Fratton feels like we have broken the glass ceiling. When we used to go to Pompey Women Abby would be the only little girl running around getting autographs and photos with players. On Sunday there was a wall of kids queuing up, it was crazy and brilliant.
ON TRANSFER BUSINESS
How would you assess Portsmouth’s transfer business so far?
With the resources available, I think Jay has built a young and hungry squad. Portsmouth FC have decided not to pay our Women players again this season which is disappointing and obviously dictates some of Jay’s transfer decisions. To retain the senior players he has despite this is reassuring and gives others the opportunity to shine.
Are there any areas you feel need to be strengthened ahead of the new season?
Very hard to pinpoint any particular areas as we have brought in players across the pitch and they need time. On paper, if I had to pick, I would say a goal hanger/poacher style player wouldn’t go amiss. We have some good quality up top. Players who can score from range, hold the ball up and offer us power and presence. I just think a poacher would beneficial, especially in tight games where the opposition pack their box.
Which new signing you are most excited to see more of and why?
I have not seen a great deal of the new players yet due to us being at England games and then on holiday. Early signs are Sophie Quirk will be massive for us. She looks quality with a hell of a shot on her. I think the re-signing of Mia Adaway could be important as well, she offers pace and is very attacking-minded.
Which player do you wish you could have kept hold of and why?
There isn’t a single player who has left I wouldn’t have back in a heartbeat. Probably the biggest impact will be Shannon Albuery and Cherelle Khassal leaving. That’s 59 goals out of the team and leaves a huge void to fill. With the season they both had it was obvious they wouldn’t be short of offers. With the club deciding not to pay players, they were always going.
ON THE SQUAD
Who do you feel will be your key player(s) this season?
I spoke about Sophie Quirk earlier and I stand by the fact I think she will be critical this season. But I think the core that remained from last season will be so important in the first 10 games. We have a lot of new, young players who need guidance. Last season’s core will be so important in that aspect.
Who do you feel is your most underrated player? Someone whose contributions don’t always get the credit they deserve.
We have a couple. Dan Rowe and Hannah Haughton. Captain and Vice Captain. Both 9/10 every single week, never let the side down. Last season Shannon [Albuery] and Cherelle [Khassal] got a tonne of plaudits and rightly so. But Dan and Hannah both played 36 of the 38 games and were the foundation of our side.
Are there any players you expect to breakthrough and establish themselves in the first team this season?
We have a few players training with the first team who get occasional first-team minutes. It’s really hard to say if any will be able to break through and play regularly. Macey Walters looked good last season when she was involved.
ON NEXT SEASON
What are your expectations for 2022/23 in league and cup competitions?
We go for the league title from day 1, if you’re not going to do that, why bother? With Southampton out the league, it’s all opened up and it’s there for the taking.
I really would like an FA Cup run. I’ve not seen one since I have been following the team and it would be a dream to get a WSL team down to the South Coast.
Retaining the Hampshire and PDFA cups would be good but so tough. Southampton have retained their place in the Hampshire Cup despite gaining promotion. You can be sure they play an extremely strong side if they get us. Bournemouth also look to be a strong side again this season.
In the PDFA Cup Moneyfields will take some beating, they go from strength to strength every season.
Last season you finished in 7th place which arguably did not reflect the talent in the squad. What adjustments do you need to make or what needs to happen for you to achieve your season aims on the pitch?
If you had told me we would have two players with 27 and 32 goals respectively and 18 clean sheets I would have assumed we won the league. We lacked consistency with too many dropped points in 50/50 games. Dropping points to Crawley, Gillingham, Plymouth, and MK Dons cost us a top 3. They were games you have to win to push the higher places.
Who do you consider your biggest rivals to be this season and why?
Watford, Oxford and Ipswich are the title favourites so I see them as the teams we need to match to be up there. The resources and squads they have available will make them formidable opponents. We start with Ipswich away, it doesn’t get much tougher!
Who do you think will end the season as your club’s top scorer?
I have not seen enough of our new forwards to really make an educated guess but I would imagine Sophie Quirk or Emma Jones will be up there.
What fixtures are you most and least looking forward to?
With Southampton gone we don’t have “beef” with anyone in the division so there are no feisty games in the league on paper but I think playing Watford, Oxford and Ipswich home and away will be good games. I’m not a fan of MK Dons away, a huge stadium at 1% capacity for Women’s game, filming is difficult there for us and the pitch is so far away its harder to get any atmosphere in the stadium. Other than that, Plymouth. It’s just so far to drive with the kids!
What’s your favourite away day and why?
I like Oxford; good facilities and a nice friendly atmosphere. They get good numbers at home and there is never any trouble.
And finally, do you think England winning the Euros will impact your team this season?
We have already seen it. Season ticket sales are going well and a big gate of 327 in the recent friendly. There is a huge positive energy around Women’s football. Clubs need to make the most of this while it lasts and build a legacy.
Our thanks to Ian for his time and a reminder that you can follow Ian’s adventures throughout the new season on his YouTube channel Pompey Women Vlogs HERE.