Southampton FC Women’s manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale hailed her side’s hard work after a 3-1 win over MK Dons ensured a successful start to the National League Southern Premier season.

Goals from Ella Pusey and a Lucia Kendall double helped Saints to a 3-1 win at Snows Stadium on Sunday as life in Tier 3 began.

Kendall opened the scoring on 30 minutes, before adding a second just seven minutes later.

A third and decisive third came in the 68th minute through Ella Pusey before Mollie Coupar added a consolation from the spot for the Dons.

“There’s always that anticipation with the first game of the season,” said Spacey-Cale, “we went into the game a bit cagey to start with.

“As the game grew so did we, so I was really pleased with the win. Three really good goals for different reasons showcasing different ways in which we can play. I think the girls worked really hard to ensure we got the three points.”

“That second goal showed that Kayla [Rendell]’s delivery is an absolute weapon for us, but more pleasing was her recognising when to play that ball. Her recognition to see the run and see Lucia [Kendall] was really key.

“Lucia now into her second season is really confident. The England call-up has really helped in terms of her belief in herself and we’re getting some real rewards from that.

“She trains well and she’s a great person to have around the group. She has all the attributes you want from a player of an older age but she has them so young. We just hope she continues her development."