Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hounslow, Southampton FC Women’s manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale spoke to us about the season so far and the key messages to both players and supporters.
Last weekend’s 9-0 thrashing of Gillingham threw up flashbacks of previous big wins at Snows Stadium in recent years.
Couple that with Saints’ 100% start to the league season and you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s more of the same for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side, despite moving up a division to the National League Southern Premier.
But the manager is keen to remind players and supporters alike that new challenges will keep on coming for her side, starting on Sunday with the trip to Hounslow.
“We spoke before the Gillingham game about being clinical,” said Spacey-Cale. “The last couple of games we had some chances and weren’t quite putting them away.
“Last weekend we put them away along with creating a few more. The fact that we scored nine and the girls kept going and really wanted to keep attacking, keep playing those forward passes.
“Gillingham were a tough unit to crack to start with and put us under pressure to start with. We weathered a bit of a storm early on and came up with a ruthless display.
“We have to go into this week’s game with the same kind of mentality, the same commitment as we did last week against Gillingham.
“We know they’ll cause us a problem but we’ve got to ride through that and get into our game.
“It’s another opportunity for us to be challenged by teams in this league. They’ve got a core of players who’ve been around the group for a long time so they’ll have a real togetherness and a real sense of wanting to keep improving.”
One of the many positives from the victory over Gillingham was the performance of full-back Ella Morris, who scored two of Saints’ nine goals.
After suffering an ACL injury at the end of the 2019/20 season, Morris’ road to recovery has been a long and testing one for the youngster. But Spacey-Cale was pleased at the hard work that got her to this point.
“She’s still in the recovery phase as she gets match fitness back to where it was,” said the manager, “but she’s worked really well and got herself into a great physical shape which we’re getting the rewards from at the moment.
“We’re also keen to make sure we don’t over push and make sure the recovery is still on track. It’s a long process and you have to keep the good habits you built up whilst you were out.
“Sunday was a really good platform for her to show where she’s at and highlight the hard work she’s put in throughout the recovery period.”
The size of the squad has seen an increase over the summer, giving Spacey-Cale more options and more depth to choose from.
This was one of the manager’s key messages at the start of the season and something which came to fruition last weekend.
“It has been the same since pre-season. We’ve got real good depth in the squad and we need to use players accordingly because it’s a long season.
“As disappointed as players will be about not being selected either for the squad or the game itself, their attitudes have been great when they have come in, almost to say ‘I’m here and I’m going to grab this opportunity’.
“Rosie [Parnell] came back against Gillingham from a slight injury and she’s getting more minutes in games and Shelly [Provan] has been on and off but has certainly come in and done a really good job.
“She’s very committed, whether she’s just in the squad or whether she’s playing, to being the best version of herself she can be and especially out there on the pitch.”
On the subject of returning faces those the boss is most pleased to see back were the spectators.
In each of the four games Saints have played so far the fans have been there with them, including on the three-hour round trip to Plymouth in August.
“It’s amazing to see them and to hear them. The girls really appreciate the fact that we have supporters at all of these games, even down to Plymouth.
“They’re really committed and really positive about wanting to be around the group. We missed them and for me we want more of them to come in.
“More supporters to build the feel that this is a really big part of Southampton Football Club.”