Southampton marked their return to league duty with another superb performance, brushing aside London Bees 5-0 at Snows Stadium.
Goals from Sophia Pharoah and Leeta Rutherford in the first half quickly put Saints in the driving seat, as London Bees struggled to retain any possession of the ball.
Coming into the second period on a wave of confidence, the hosts extended their lead courtesy of strikes from Lucia Kendall, Ella Pusey and Caitlin Morris to ensure their unbeaten start to the season remained untouched.
Saints started the game with an instant hunger for the opening goal, and almost found it off the right boot of Rosie Parnell on 14 minutes, the defender firing against the crossbar after Shannon Sievwright’s cross was clawed out of the top corner by Faye Hazelton, who could only divert the ball back into danger.
Predictably, Saints quickly went one better, Alisha Ware making good progress down the left before firing into Ciara Watling, who, with her back to goal, showed excellent awareness to pick out the late run of Pharoah, allowing the midfielder to close in on goal uncontested and slide an accurate effort into the bottom left corner on 17 minutes.
At this point, given Southampton’s ruthlessness in previous games, two or three more goals before half time wasn’t unlikely, but the Bees did well to stem the flow, despite creating little offensively.
Eager to double their advantage, Kendall was the next to come close, Milly Mott setting out on an impressive run from deep before laying the ball into the feet of her teammate, who did well to roll her marker, but fired over after 37 minutes.
However, Saints would eventually find that deserved second, an excellent Sievwright corner from the right swung toward the far post where Rutherford was there to power home on the 42nd minute, outmuscling her two Bees markers. A fourth goal for the defender already this season.
Seconds before the interval, Kendall showed further intent, this time a curling left-footed effort toward the bottom left corner, which Hazelton did well to get down and touch wide.
Saints started the second period strongly and quickly created two chances to extend their lead, Freeland was the first to see her effort from close range saved by right hand of Hazelton following her own mistake, before Kendall had two efforts blocked moments later.
By now, Kendall may have been concerned that this was going to be ‘one of those days’, but in reality her prior efforts were building up to a stunning volley in the 50th minute that would put Saints three ahead, the attacker coming onto a bouncing ball that had been cleared following a cross, before striking venomously across goal and into the far corner.
Rubbing salt into London Bees’ wounds, Marieanne Spacey-Cale decided to introduce top scorer Pusey in the 62nd minute, and it didn’t take long for the striker to add her name to the scoresheet, arriving at the back post to tap home Mott’s driven cross from the right just two minutes after touching grass.
In similar circumstances, the number nine almost secured her brace in the 80th minute, but this time Hazelton was able to get across and block the effort from close range, following another pinpoint cross from the left.
The fifth and final goal came with three minutes to spare, Sievwright finding Ware from a short-corner routine, allowing the winger to loft in a delicate ball which would have found it’s way into the top right corner of Hazelton’s net regardless, but substitute Caitlin Morris was there to ensure the sensational Saints hit a fantastic five.