Southampton FC Women secured a well-earned point at league leaders Bristol City in the Barclays Women's Championship.
Saints faced another team in the higher echelons of the table as they travelled to Bristol City in the Barclays Women’s Championship.
The Robins had recorded three wins from their opening three games, while Saints were coming off the back of their first three points after shocking Crystal Palace with a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park.
Saints almost got off to a flying start as some intelligent pressing from Beth Lumsden saw Fran Bentley’s clearance go inches from an outstretched boot, but it wasn’t to be.
The early let off for the home side spurred them on, and the Robins began to push higher up the pitch.
Bristol looked to create something from nothing going forward as the clock ticked towards five minutes, as a missed header and poor clearance saw prolific goalscorer Abi Harrison with space and time on the edge of the box.
Rosie Parnell was quick to get out to the Bristol attacker, taking any sting out of the shot, before Kayla Rendell collected.
Rendell was almost called into action again a minute later, as Bristol City’s possession dominance saw the home side race up the pitch, with Ella Powell slicing a shot-cross onto the top netting.
Despite Saints working hard in defence, the constant pressure from the Robins was too much to handle in the 29th minute. Some poor clearances saw a through ball slotted between Saints’ centre backs, leaving Ffion Morgan with a one-on-one which she sent curling into the top corner.
It was nearly a second shortly after as Abi Harrison was threaded a neat ball from out wide. It looked like a sure thing it would hit the back of the net, but Rendell made herself big, denying the City player from an impossible angle.
Saints looked sharper in the closing exchanges of the half, limiting the chances for the Robins, and enjoying forays into the opposition half through some excellent Katie Wilkinson hold-up play and Lumsden pace in behind.
Despite the improved performance, Saints went in for half time behind at Ashton Gate.
Milly Mott was the first change of the game, entering the fray for Ashleigh Ward at half time, providing some defensive fresh legs as well as the extra option going forward.
Akin to the Lewes game, Saints came out looking like a different side, and took the Robins by surprise just minutes into the second half.
Ella Morris, who has been key for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side so far this season, raced down the right-hand side and delivered a pinpoint cross to the centre of the box, where an onrushing Lumsden could slot home past Fran Bentley.
A first Saints goal for Lumsden and the first goal that Bristol City have conceded this season.
The Robins struggled to deal with the new-look Saints side but still managed to fashion their own chances when they did get forward; Laura Rafferty having to provide a painful block in the 65th minute, as an Abi Harrison cross was hit straight at the goal.
Then, Rendell was called into action. Parnell was crunched in the middle, staying down from the challenge, allowing Aimee Palmer to pick up the ball and shoot from distance. The long-range ball looked to be looping into the net, but Rendell tipped onto the crossbar to keep things even.
It was straight up the other end again though, as Wilkinson twisted and turned through the City defence before unleashing a shot that looked destined to fly into the top corner, but a red shirt flew across to make a last-ditch block.
A double change from Marieanne Spacey-Cale saw Leeta Rutherford and Megan Wynne join the game for the final 15 minutes.
Lumsden was inches from getting her second as the game headed into the final ten minutes, driving forward from midfield, cutting in and shooting near post. Bentley had to be aware to tip away for a corner.
Saints didn’t let up, and substitute Rutherford would have been disappointed to not add a goal to her name, after her header dropped inches from the goal line before being scrambled away.
Another double change saw Ella Pusey and Phoebe Williams provide more fresh legs in the dying minutes of the game, replacing Wilkinson and Lumsden.
Despite a final resurgence from Bristol City, Saints held on for the point and became the first team to take points off the promotion hopefuls.
Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side face Coventry United next up in the Continental League Cup away at the Butts Park Arena, 3pm kick-off.