Women's Report: Saints 6-1 Plymouth

By SFC Media time Sun 17 Apr Saints vs Plymouth Argyle
Photo by Isabelle Field
Sun 17 Apr 2PM
FA Womens National League Southern Premier
Southampton
6
Plymouth Argyle
1
Watling [27'] Pharoah [40'] Kendall [45'] [66'] Freeland [52'] Rafferty [90'].
goal
Cunningham [68']
Venue: Snows Stadium | Attendance: 0

Southampton FC Women extended their unbeaten league run to 14 with a stunning 6-1 victory over Plymouth at Snows Stadium.

Southampton raced into a three-goal lead in the first-half, courtesy of goals from Ciara Watling, Sophia Pharoah and Lucia Kendall.

A rocket from Georgie Freeland ensured a fast start to the second 45, with further strikes from Kendall and Laura Rafferty bringing Saints’ tally to six for the afternoon, despite a Zoe Cunningham consolation in the 68th minute.

On a sunny afternoon in Totton, Rafferty was the first to go close, her half-volley well struck but just wide of Jasmine Read’s right post in the fourth minute.

Kendall opened the scoring on Thursday evening in Southampton’s 9-1 victory over Keynsham with a vicious strike from distance, a feat which she very nearly replicated in the sixth minute of today’s encounter, her powerful effort from just outside the box twice denied by the crossbar, before Alisha Ware fired her subsequent half-volley over.

Moments later, in the tenth minute, livewire Kendall would enjoy another golden chance to open the scoring, this time latching onto Shelly Provan’s low ball from the left, but the 17-year-old got underneath her effort and blazed over. With a constant flow of chances, a first Southampton goal was surely imminent.

Despite their dull start, Plymouth began to grow into the game as the minutes ticked beyond 10, crafting their first opportunity through an in-swinging free-kick which was met by Kayley Lane, but not with enough conviction to beat Kayla Rendell.

Enjoying a brief attacking spell between the 20th and 25th minutes, Amber Pollock was gifted the best chance of the half so far, breaking free with the ball following a Southampton defensive mistake, but her shot was inaccurate and smashed the post just a few yards out from Kayla Rendell’s net.

By this point, the woodwork had already been rattled on three separate occasions, and a fourth was just around the corner, Rafferty rising highest to meet Phoebe Williams’s corner, but her header deflected off the near post, somehow keeping the game goalless.

At least that would be the case until the 27th minute, when Watling, who has been in fine form of late, latched onto Pharoah’s well-weighted pass from midfield before clinically steering her low, left-footed effort into the bottom corner. First blood Southampton.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Ciara Watling of Southampton goal celebration  during the Women's National League Southern Premier match between Southampton Women and Plymouth Argyle at Snows Stadium on April 17, 2022 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ciara Watling celebrates her goal against Plymouth (Photo: Isabelle Field)

In a bid to respond quickly, Cunningham stepped over a free-kick from just outside the Saints penalty area moments later, following a late challenge from Rafferty. Her strike was clean and powerful, but lacked direction, allowing the ever-dependable Rendell to safely hold.

As the opening 45 drew to a close, Southampton’s superior fitness levels were evident, as they ended the half firmly on the front foot.

Pharoah would be the first to make the visitors pay, showing attacking instinct to gamble on Ruby Murphy’s short back-pass, easily tucking her effort beyond the outrushing Read for number two in the 40th minute.

Then, moments before Ffion Eade’s whistle, Kendall predictably added her name to the scoresheet, meeting Provan’s corner with a powerful header than nestled into the net. Another commanding three goal lead and surely another three points.

Starting the second-half how they ended the first, Ware soon threatened in the 50th minute, her placed effort on-target but not powerful enough to beat Read.

The goalkeeper, however, would soon pick the ball out of her net for a fourth time, Freeland’s stunning strike from distance, which whistled across goal and into the far corner, enough to all but seal Southampton victory.

Hungry for further goals, Kendall planted home her second header of the game on 66 minutes, taking her league tally to 15 for the season and increasing the home lead to five.

The visitors by this point looked well beaten, but that didn’t stop Cunningham from grabbing a consolation goal with a stunning half-volley from range, which arched away from the hand of Rendell and into her far corner, reducing the deficit to four with 22 minutes to play.

In fact, it could have been reduced to three, if Gabrielle Alphous had shown better composure with her one-on-one finish, which she snatched horribly wide to relief of 277 Saints supporters at Snows Stadium.

Despite their best attempts to launch a late comeback, Southampton added a sixth and final goal moments before full-time, Rafferty bursting onto the scene to guide home Kendall’s corner from the left, ensuring a good day finished on a positive note.

Southampton

1
Kayla Rendell (GK)
3
Shelly Provan
5
Rosie Parnell
6
Laura Rafferty goal
7
Georgie Freeland
8
Phoebe Williams (C)
replace Shannon Sievwright (73′)
11
Alisha Ware
12
Sophia Pharoah goal
replace Alice Griffiths (62′)
17
Lucia Kendall goal goal
18
Milly Mott
22
Ciara Watling goal
replace Ella Pusey (62′)
9
Ella Pusey
10
Shannon Sievwright
13
Sara Luce
19
Alice Griffiths
21
Leeta Rutherford

Plymouth Argyle

25
Jasmine Read (GK)
3
Rosie Train
6
Tiana Campbell
8
Zoe Cunningham
11
Beth Ireland
17
Tiana Campbell
18
Imy Crawford
19
Ruby Murphy
20
Amber Pollock
replace Gabi Alphous (62′)
22
Panagiota Papaioannou
27
Kayley Lane
9
Gabi Alphous
26
Lucy Hack

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