Saints fell to defeat in their Conti Cup debut as two quickfire goals early in the second half from Coventry United proved too much to turnaround for a much changed side.

Dominating possession in the first half, Saints were unable to make their chances count, with the home side only notching two shots on target in the opening 45 to Saints' ten.

However, despite their lack of real opportunity, Coventry United hit a slow-starting Saints side in the second half, with Meesha Dudley-Jones and Ebony Wiseman scoring in the 50th and 55th minute.

It was a scrappy first five minutes for both teams, with both Lee Burch and Marieanne Spacey-Cale making a number of changes.

Despite the slow start, it was Saints with the first chance of the game. Some individual brilliance from Megan Wynne saw her turn her player on the halfway line, before darting down the left hand side and sliding a cross into the box. Both Katie Wilkinson and Ella Pusey were inches away from contact that would have surely seen the net bulge.

The net did bulge in the tenth minute with some nice build up play seeing Wilkinson in space and able to slot home, only to see the referee point to the linesman whose flag was up.

Saints started to go up the gears as the game moved on. Wilkinson provided a back line slicing through ball in the 16th minute, seeing Ella Pusey race forward to go one-on-one with Mia Smith.

The number nine rounded the keeper, but her touch ran away from her, and her lacklustre shot was cleared off the line by a recovering Coventry United shirt.

Captain Leeta Rutherford was the next to go close twice in quick succession, as two corners whipped back post were met by the Saints player. The first being collected by Coventry’s keeper and the second looping over the bar.

Coventry United made a rare foray into the Saints half via a counter just after the 30 minute mark forcing Rutherford to make a last ditch challenge on Ebony Wiseman, for which she was shown a yellow card. The subsequent free-kick was cooly collected by Kayla Rendell.

Former Coventry United player Wilkinson continued to show her skill going forward, enjoying two real chances as the half wore on. The first saw some neat build up play see her in space on the edge of the box, but her low shot was collected by Mia Smith.

The Coventry keeper had to stay focussed shortly after as Wilkinson unleashes a characteristic long-range rocket towards the goal. The bouncing shot eventually tipped past the post.

A strong first half from Saints, who were unable to make the most of their possession and opportunities in the opposition half.

Coventry United made Saints pay for their lack of clinical finishing just five minutes into the second half. A slip up in the midfield saw Coventry United with the overload going forward, and Meesha Dudley-Jones was on hand to slot home across Rendell.

The home side doubled their lead five minutes later. As Saints looked to re-group and push for the equaliser, another drive forward from deep in the midfield saw Ebony Wiseman unleash a long range effort that flew into the top corner in the 55th minute.

Wilkinson nearly got Saints back in the game as the clock ticked towards the 70th minute, twisting and turning in the box and getting her shot away, but again, the keeper was level to the effort.

Ciara Watling was the first change from Marieanne Spacey-Cale in the 76th minute, replacing a battling Phoebe Williams in the midfield.

It was all Saints as the game continued towards the 90. Pusey went one-on-one with the keeper once again, this time unable to keep her shot down, and seeing it fly high over the bar.

Freeland then rattled the crossbar; the ball falling to her on the edge of the area, where she unleashed a first time effort.

As the game ticked into injury time, Paige Peake took a free-kick as a chance, but her shot flew wide.

Coventry did their best to control the game as Saints found their rhythm, but in the end it was Coventry United who took all the points in the Continental Cup.