The points were shared at St Mary’s Stadium following Southampton FC Women’s entertaining goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers.
There were plenty of chances throughout the hard-fought fixture for either side, but neither could convert in front of goal to claim all three points at this crucial stage of the Championship season.
Following their difficult defeat away to Charlton Athletic last weekend, Saints were keen to get back to winning ways against a 9th placed Blackburn side that hadn’t earned victory in the league since last November.
The last time these two sides met was also in November, when Saints left Ewood Park with a 1-1 draw. Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side were superb throughout that encounter but struggled to take their chances in front of goal, an issue they aimed to remedy this afternoon.
Saints enjoyed relative control in the opening minutes, registering early efforts on goal from both Beth Lumsden and Megan Wynne, although neither caused Alex Brooks genuine concern.
However, the finest chance of the opening 10 minutes would fall the way of Blackburn who, following some neat play in midfield, set Farah Crompton through on goal with a wonderful pass. The winger surely would have tucked it away too, if it weren’t for some very brave goalkeeping from Kayla Rendell, who rushed out to smother the danger at her feet.
Beyond the 10th minute Saints really began to step on the gas, finding frequent joy down the right flank through Ella Morris and Beth Lumsden, who seemed to be occupying a wider position than many anticipated before kick-off.
Beginning to find their rhythm, the hosts produced some more fine play in the 19th minute, Wynne and Lucia Kendall combining to set up Alice Griffiths with a shooting opportunity from just outside the area, but the Welshwoman couldn’t keep her strike down.
Spacey-Cale was left wondering how her side weren’t ahead once more in the 28th minute, when Milly Mott’s wicked cross following a corner zipped right between Backburn’s defensive line and goalkeeper, begging for just the slightest touch from a Saint.
In end-to-end fashion, Blackburn then raced up the other end in search of a shock opener against the run of play and may have found it through the tricky run and shot of Crompton if Rendell weren’t well placed once more to save.
Leaving the 2,759 supporters minimal time to catch their breath, Southampton went close yet again the 37th minute as another cross caused havoc, somehow finding its way to Megan Collett at the far post. However, amid a wave of defensive pressure the full-back couldn’t find a gap in the mass of Blackburn bodies, who eventually came together to hack clear.
Headed into the tunnel for halftime, Saints’ performance arguably deserved the lead. However, similarly to in the reverse fixture, chance taking had proved challenging thus far and needed to be bettered in the latter period if all three points were to stay in SO14.
Despite a positive start to the second period, Saints found themselves staring down the barrel in the 53rd minute when Saffron Jordan was set clean through on goal, but the striker couldn’t find the corner beyond the outstretched body of Rendell, who yet again rose to the occasion and blocked confidently against the odds.
Despite the early hiccup, Saints stuck to the game plan and gradually ramped up their offensive. In the 64th minute, Lumsden looked to be through via a well-weighted ball from Chloe Peplow, but referee Laura Van Lier decided against the advantage and brought play back for an earlier foul on Morris, frustratingly robbing the hosts of a presentable opening.
That wouldn’t deter the striker though, who in the 72nd minute raced through once more alongside substitute Katie Wilkinson, firing a low, right-footed effort across goal which forced Brooks into action.
With the clock ticking ever closer to the 90, Saints pushed one last time in search of a winning goal.
Some quick thinking between Sophia Pharoah and Kendall from a corner granted the former with time and space to whip in a delicious ball from outside the box. The cross hung in the air perfectly and begged to be nodded home at the far post, but Blackburn did just enough to flick away the danger – much as they had done all afternoon to the frustration of those in red and white.
The hosts would continue to press right through to the final seconds but just couldn’t find a way through to goal, frustratingly depriving them of maximum points despite a hearty performance.