First-half goals from Lucia Kendall and Alisha Ware secured Southampton FC Women an all-important three points at London Bees on Wednesday night.
Saints dominated the opening minutes and were 2-0 up in 12 minutes. Kendall notching her fourth goal in two games direct from a free kick, before Ware doubled the tally with an equally accurate strike soon after.
London Bees ended the first half with a flurry of chances and grabbed a goal back early into the second; Jo Wilson finishing one-on-one six minutes in.
Both sides battled for the crucial fourth goal that would decide the game either way, but Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side held on a for a deserved three points.
Saints made two changes to the side that saw off Cardiff City on Sunday, as Laura Rafferty and Ella Morris made way for Leeta Rutherford and Sophia Pharoah.
Rosie Parnell had a glorious chance to open the scoring inside the first minute, as a deep free-kick towards the far post was headed just over by the Saints centre-back.
Saints kept getting closer, Ella Pusey twisting and turning on the edge of the box before her attempted lob rattled the crossbar. The game still inside its first three minutes.
Kendall was up next, directing her header from inside the box just wide of the far post on four minutes.
The breakthrough seemed inevitable for the visitors and it came on ten minutes. Kendall stepping over a free kick just outside the area which she brilliantly curled into the far corner.
Saints doubled their lead just two minutes later, Ware receiving the ball from Pharoah before bending a strike into the top corner of the net.
The visiting side certainly didn’t sit back after racing into a 2-0 lead, the Bees struggling to keep possession for any great length thanks to the consistent Saints press.
On 25 minutes the hosts almost contributed to their difficult start; full-back Jade Bell hitting the post with her own clearance at the far post as Ware closed in.
The Bees appeared to grow into the game as the half entered its final ten minutes. Courtney Ward-Chambers having the home side’s first effort at goal which trickled wide of Kayla Rendell’s far post.
Wilson was next to get in-behind the Saints back line, her angle tightened by the onrushing Rendell who forced the striker to hit her effort well wide.
They started queuing up, Millie Constantine letting fly from range in the third of three chances in quick succession. Easily claimed by the Saints keeper.
After a strong end to the first the hosts made a clinical start to the second, grabbing a goal back through Wilson who was put through one-on-one after 51 minutes.
Saints response came via an instant change, Ella Morris coming on to add extra pace down the right flank.
The hosts certainly didn’t let up, however, with momentum in their favour. Constantine’s cross finding goal scorer Wilson at the back post who skewed her strike into the side netting.
Saints looked a threat on the break, Pusey leading one such counter on 73 minutes but her eventual strike well claimed by keeper Faye Hazelton.
The game became limited in terms of chances the longer it went on, both sides battling for possession and eager to score that all important next goal.
As the evenly matched second half entered stoppage time it was the Bees who had the lion’s share of possession.
Ultimately Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side held on for a vital victory on the road, taking them to within three points of second place Oxford.
They’ll look to continue this momentum next time out away at Gillingham on Sunday.