Southampton FC Women extended their unbeaten league run to 14 with a stunning 6-1 victory over Plymouth at Snows Stadium.
Southampton raced into a three-goal lead in the first-half, courtesy of goals from Ciara Watling, Sophia Pharoah and Lucia Kendall.
A rocket from Georgie Freeland ensured a fast start to the second 45, with further strikes from Kendall and Laura Rafferty bringing Saints’ tally to six for the afternoon, despite a Zoe Cunningham consolation in the 68th minute.
On a sunny afternoon in Totton, Rafferty was the first to go close, her half-volley well struck but just wide of Jasmine Read’s right post in the fourth minute.
Kendall opened the scoring on Thursday evening in Southampton’s 9-1 victory over Keynsham with a vicious strike from distance, a feat which she very nearly replicated in the sixth minute of today’s encounter, her powerful effort from just outside the box twice denied by the crossbar, before Alisha Ware fired her subsequent half-volley over.
Moments later, in the tenth minute, livewire Kendall would enjoy another golden chance to open the scoring, this time latching onto Shelly Provan’s low ball from the left, but the 17-year-old got underneath her effort and blazed over. With a constant flow of chances, a first Southampton goal was surely imminent.
Despite their dull start, Plymouth began to grow into the game as the minutes ticked beyond 10, crafting their first opportunity through an in-swinging free-kick which was met by Kayley Lane, but not with enough conviction to beat Kayla Rendell.
Enjoying a brief attacking spell between the 20th and 25th minutes, Amber Pollock was gifted the best chance of the half so far, breaking free with the ball following a Southampton defensive mistake, but her shot was inaccurate and smashed the post just a few yards out from Kayla Rendell’s net.
By this point, the woodwork had already been rattled on three separate occasions, and a fourth was just around the corner, Rafferty rising highest to meet Phoebe Williams’s corner, but her header deflected off the near post, somehow keeping the game goalless.
At least that would be the case until the 27th minute, when Watling, who has been in fine form of late, latched onto Pharoah’s well-weighted pass from midfield before clinically steering her low, left-footed effort into the bottom corner. First blood Southampton.