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WOMEN’S FOOTBALL: Argyle’s Soper joins Chelsea as Saltash make cup semi-finals

PLYMOUTH Argyle’s young goalkeeper Poppy Soper has joined Women’s Super League giants Chelsea.

The 19-year-old Welsh shot-stopper will join last season’s quadruple winners on a dual-registered deal, which means she will still be able to play for Argyle this season if not required by the Blues.

Soper will train full-time with Chelsea where she will learn from the experienced Ann-Katrin Berger and Zecira Musovic.

“It’s still a bit of a shock,” admitted Soper. “I have known for a couple of weeks, but it’s not sunk in properly yet.”

Soper admits she is grateful to Argyle for helping her develop over the last couple of seasons.

“I would like to thank the club,” she said. “They have given me game-time, which is really important for goalkeeper.”

Despite her best efforts, Soper could not prevent Argyle from narrowly losing 2-1 away at Chicester & Selsey in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division on Sunday.

Argyle had their chances in a game played in wet and windy conditions, but could take them.

Manager Ryan Perkins admitted it was disappointing to lose and likened the defeat to their League Cup 3-1 reverse by the same opponents in November.

He added: “We dominated the ball and created a lot of chances, but didn’t take them and conceded two poor goals. But credit to Chichester as they dug in and made it hard work and got the result.”

Gabi Alphous, Zoe Cunningham, Beth Ireland, Amber Pollock and Natasha Knapman all had chances in the first half before the hosts scored just before half-time, with Sophie Phelps netting from a corner.

And straight after the break, Chichester doubled their lead when the ball went in off an Argyle player from another corner.

The Pilgrims then threw everything at the West Sussex side in an attempt to get back into the game.

The dominated possession and finally in the 85th minute they got the ball in the net courtesy of Knapman.

In the final few minutes, Argyle desperately tried everything to find an equaliser but Chichester held out for the three points.

In the South West Women’s Premier Division, Marine Academy Plymouth battled hard against second-placed Ilminster at Ivybridge but eventually lost 3-0 in wet conditions.

The visitors had the better of the first half but could not find a goal thanks to some good defending and some good saves by goalkeeper Charlie Nicholson.

Marine came out with much more purpose for the second half and had started threatening Ilminster’s goal but the visitors scored two goals within the space of five minutes midway through the second half to take control of the game.

With Marine having to push forward more to try and get back into the match, the visitors scored again with 10 minutes to go. Harriet Kelly, Colette Martin and Charlotte Pettinger scored Ilminster’s goals.

South West Western League side Saltash United were in Cornwall Cup action on Sunday and they reached the semi-finals of the county competition by beating FXU Ladies 4-1 away.

Nicola Champion bagged a hat-trick for the Ashes in Falmouth, with Dee Newman lobbing the home goalkeeper for their other goal.

In the Devon Women’s League Western Division, Signal Box Oak Villa lost an entertaining game away at second-placed Torquay United seconds 5-3, while an under-strength Lakeside went down 10-0 at home to Shaldon.

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