Women's Report: Hounslow 0-9 Saints


Southampton FC Women cruised to their fifth victory of the new campaign on a particularly hot afternoon in the capital, brushing aside Hounslow to maintain their 100 per cent start to life in the FA Women's National League.

After a slow opening, Saints found some rhythm, hitting the back of the net four times in the first period, before surpassing their already impressive goal exploits in the second.

Ella Pusey was predictably among the goals, with summer signing Ciara Watling claiming a majestic treble. Substitute Georgie Freeland also added to the mounting tally late on, as did Sophia Pharaoh and Shelly Provan, rounding off a productive afternoon's work.

It means Saints continue to lead the pack, asserting some early intent on their ambitions for the league title by registering back-to-back nine goal hauls, with Cheltenham Town up next on their travels.

Saints pressed and probed in the early stages, with little reward for their effort. Milly Mott enjoyed a couple of half chances, each created by a clever late run to the back post, once firing into the side netting and subsequently hitting her next effort over the bar.

Rosie Parnell rose highest to an in-swinging corner from the right on the half-hour mark, clearing her marker, but also the crossbar. Still, Saints were gaining in momentum, whilst also sharing the majority of possession, forcing their hosts to retreat in the hot London sunshine.

The breakthrough arrived moments later. And one followed another. In fact, a succession of four goals were scored before the break, as Hounslow's resolve was shattered by Saints' relentless intensity.

Pusey notched the first, with a neat back-flick that fooled the opposition goalkeeper, thanks to persistent play from Pharaoh inside the box.

Watling's deflected shot looped in from distance in the 36th minute, before Pusey was causing chaos once more, with Leeta Rutherford to thank for a neat nod back across goal. In truth the ball was probably heading goalward without further intervention, but the number nine ensured it crossed the line safely by tussling with her defender as the ball was suspended mid-air.

Pusey then put the telling touch on an inch-perfect Mott cross, nipping across the defender at the near post before turning home in the 40th minute.

Certainly not Saints' slickest first-half display, in stifling heat, but their quality told in the final third as they headed into the break with what looked to be an unassailable advantage.

Indeed, that proved to be the case, with Watling firing home her second of the afternoon 15 minutes after the restart. Saints were in full flow by this point.

A further ten minutes passed before Provan teed up Freeland who glanced a header beyond Vicky Wright for the seventh, but not before Pharaoh got her just rewards for a splendid all-round midfield performance with a goal of her own, a mere 60 seconds prior.

Watling's second strike, Saints' fifth, was particularly well taken, swivelling on the half volley to lash the ball into the far corner - she completed her hat-trick before the day was out, while Provan also netted her first of the campaign before the referee called time on a particularly one-sided affair, guiding the ball home after a teasing cross from stand-in captain Phoebe Williams. She too had a fine afternoon in the heart of Saints' well-organised midfield.

Nine goals on consecutive weekends will stand Saints in good stead going forward, with undoubtedly harder undertakings to come, including a first competitive meeting with London Bees at the end of the month. But for now, it's another sign that Marieanne Spacey-Cale's side are not only growing in stature, but gaining in belief that this season could yet be another to remember.