Ipswich Town Women were defeated in what felt like a must-win game for the Tractor Girls to have any hope at promotion this season, at the hands of top-of-the-league Portsmouth, who knocked them out of the League Cup last week.

It didn't start well for Town, who found themselves 1-0 down within two minutes, as a long-range effort from Rutherford looped over Poppy Soper's head and into the back of the net.

Town responded well to this early set back, having lots of possession, probing at the Portsmouth defence.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sophie Peskett on the ball for TownSophie Peskett on the ball for Town (Image: Ross Halls)

Town hit the woodwork in the 37th minute, as an in-swinging free kick from captain Maria Boswell found Lenna Gunning-Williams at the back post, whose volley skimmed the top of the crossbar.

Town played some really good football, and were arguably the better team for the first half, coping well against a very physical Pompey side, but they went into the break 1-0 down.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kyra Robertson battling for the ballKyra Robertson battling for the ball (Image: Ross Halls)

Town started the second half strong, getting into good positions, but Pompey were able to nullify any clear-cut chances.

Ruby Doe had an effort at goal in the 54th minute, as Leah Mitchell sent a cross into the area, which was met by Doe, but her header was easily kept out of the net.

Town continued to play some really good football but the final passes weren't working for them and Pompey were always able to clear to safety.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ruby Doe sliding for the ballRuby Doe sliding for the ball (Image: Ross Halls)

Town deserved something from the game but were unable to get that goal that would earn them the point, the final ball just never got through.

The Tractor Girls continue to sit in fifth place, 14 points off top spot, as Portsmouth continue their charge towards the Championship.

Town have all the work to do for the rest of the season to gain ground on those above them.

Town Starting XI: Soper, Boswell (C), Mitchell (Bryant,81), Williams, Hughes, Horwood (Boughton,81), Robertson, Doe (Bowyer,59), Peskett, Gunning-Williams (O'Brien,59), Thomas

Unused Subs: Hartley

Attendance: 458