Gillingham Ladies held league leaders for 65 minutes as they searched for FA WPL points in their final game of the season.
It was a spirited display from the hosts who led through a fantastic Lauren Phillips’ 30-yard strike. The introduction of Ini Umotong, who netted her second hat-trick against the team, before a last minute Gemma-Louise Hillier header made it 4-1.
Portsmouth enjoyed large periods of possession as Gillingham set up with a back five to draw out a result to frustrate their hosts.
However, the visitors could have taken the league in the opening couple of minutes when Bonnie Long’s sliced clearance prevent Hillier from scoring.
Gillingham productively frustrated their hosts, putting bodies behind the ball enforcing Portsmouth to devise different attacking approaches to break the side down.
Gills defenders including Captain Lauren Williams and Emma Michelmore made a series of fine blocks as the team worked hard to protect Courtney Shanley into action.
Despite enjoying time on the ball, Shanley was not properly tested long until the first half when she easily diverted a strike from Pompey skipper Charley Wilson.
With few clear chances carved out, it was Gillingham who took the lead when Emma Tune’s free-kick found lone striker Phillips whose first touch enabled her to produce a brilliant strike from 30-yards which headed into the top corner over the outstretched glove of Sadie Blakely.
The Gills went into the break at half time as they successfully frustrated their visitors and were clinical with their attacking opportunities.
Shanley’s performance over 90 minutes showcased the development the Gills youngster has made since stepping up to the first team and a great reaction save in the opening stages of the second period maintained her side’s lead.
Portsmouth then introduced Umotong whose strengh and power exposed the hard working defensive line that had been so impressive for Gillingham in the opening 45 minutes.
Umatong was able to pounce on a parried shot by Shanley, lashing the ball home to secure Portsmouth an equalizer just yards out from goal.
Portsmouth took the lead 15 minutes later when a defensive error was throughly exploited. Hillier drilled an shot which crept under Shanley.
Another defensive mistake enabled Umotong to gallop down the wing before feeding a cross to Hillier who dispatched the opportunity to make it four for the visitors.
Gillingham’s FA WPL status now rests with results elsewhere, as their re-arranged fixture on Sunday afternoon means the Kent club are the first and only team to conclude their season in April.
Gillingham: Courtney Shanley, Sophie Brown, Lauren Williams, Emma Tune, Emma Michelmore, Bonnie Long (Emily Lyons 87), Louise Lorton, Charlotte Long, Lauren Phillips, Charlotte Thurston, Ashley Loosemoore.
Sub: Rachel Ahern, Emily Lyons