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Women

Bath hoping to make a splash with Cherries

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

If you cut Becki Bath, she would bleed blue.

Portsmouth born and bred, Bath speaks from the heart about her home city and is equally as passionate about the football club, weaned on the glory years of the Premier League.

But she is quick to laugh off the notion of her family and friends wearing half-and-half scarves when Pompey do battle with the Cherries in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on Sunday.

Bath switched allegiances at the start of this season, deciding to leave Portsmouth in favour of dropping down a level in a bid to help the Cherries continue their upward trajectory.

With nine goals in her first ten games, the versatile 29-year-old has played a starring role in their impressive start to the season following elevation to Division One South West of the National League, the fourth tier of the women’s game.

And while another promotion remains the priority for Steve Cuss’s team, progression in the major cup competition in women’s domestic football would be a real feather in their cap, with Bath hoping to follow Lord Nelson and lead them to victory in the battle at Westleigh Park (2pm kick-off).

“I was watching a boxing session when the draw was made,” said Bath, who was on target as the Cherries reached the second round for the first time in their history with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth Sports earlier this month.

“My phone is connected to my watch and it just kept going off. I can’t lie, I knew. I was like ‘let’s go, let’s do this’.

“I love Pompey and some of my best friends play for them. I loved wearing the badge when I was there and I have supported the men’s team since I was young.

“We know the league is our priority but every club wants to have a good FA Cup run. It’s going to be a great test to see where we are because we want to be in the league above. I want it to be a match where we prove we can compete with teams above us.”

Bath is a Premier League Kicks targeted project lead with the AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust and gave up ballet dancing to pursue a career in football.

She said: “Before playing football, I was a dancer. I used to compete and perform all over the country. I don’t know whether I thought about making a career out of it but, once I kicked a football, I was hooked.

“My school started a girls’ football team and I said I wanted to join so my dad bought me some boots.

“I got in the school team and also started playing for Fareham Town where my dad was the manager of the under-12s.

“I played a tournament for my school at St Mary’s and a coach from the Southampton academy was watching and they wanted to sign me.

“In those days, Pompey’s academy was non-existent. Everybody knows about the rivalry between Pompey and Saints and it was drilled into me from a young age.

“I signed for Southampton but never let the badge touch my chest. My dad would never have let it happen. I wore a t-shirt under my shirt whether it was hot or cold. I got quite hot sometimes, especially in pre-season games!

“While I was at Southampton, I got scouted by Chelsea and spent my whole academy days playing for them. I didn’t make any first-team appearances but trained alongside them.

“I learned so much and they really grew me as a player. I flew through my GCSEs and my dad said I had to go to college. Chelsea did a college football course or I could go to South Downs College and play for Havant & Waterlooville.

“I’m a home bird and I didn’t want to leave Pompey. It is the biggest regret of my life because if I’d stayed at Chelsea, I probably would have kept progressing.

“I spent a couple of years with Havant & Waterlooville and then their girls’ team folded so I went back to Saints and then Pompey. Although I hate to say it, Saints is definitely a better set-up than Portsmouth.

“I had three years at Pompey and it was great. I will say this forever, the girls I met at Portsmouth Football Club are like no other and I was heartbroken to leave. It was the biggest decision of my life. I worked really hard when I was there but things don’t always go to plan.”

Bath is one of four ex-Pompey players in the Cherries squad, the others being Jade Bradley, Molly Clark and Katie James.

She made an explosive start to her career at Vitality Stadium, her stunning 45-yard free-kick against Southampton Women FC winning the Strategic Solutions goal-of-the-month award for August.

Bath, who received two nominations in August, became the first women’s player to win the award and held off strong competition from Dominic Solanke and Jaidon Anthony.

“For one, I needed a new challenge,” said Bath, when asked what had made her decide to drop down a level to join the Cherries.

“Mentally, I needed a change. Secondly, from an outsider’s point of view, Bournemouth are a threat.

“I have never been in an environment like this before and everything is geared up for moving forward. I spoke to Steve (Cuss) and Matt (Divine) and thought this could work.

“I had a massive think about it and thought ‘life’s too short, let’s try to get this club to the highest place possible’. I just want to be a part of seeing this club go on to achieve great things and I really think it can.”

Click through the arrows above to see a gallery of pictures of Becki Bath.

I just want to be a part of seeing this club go on to achieve great things and I really think it can

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