Southampton FC Women marked their second pre-season friendly with a tightly contested 0-0 draw against fellow Championship side Lewes at Snows Stadium.
With both sides aiming to be towards the top end of the table in 2022/23, it came as no surprise that chances in the match were rare. Saints created more in the first half, but it was Lewes who went closest to clinching victory overall, Kayla Rendell producing a stunning fingertip stop to touch Josie Longhurst’s effort onto the post in the dying seconds.
Despite the 282-strong crowd that filled Snows Stadium, the visitors started the better of the two teams, with Paula Howells in particular proving a threat down the right flank.
However, the first goalkeeper to be troubled was Lewes’s Sophie Whitehouse, the stopper down well to keep out Beth Lumsden’s left-footed effort from a tight angle following an intricate pass from fellow newcomer Katie Wilkinson on nine minutes.
Milly Mott would prove the source of Southampton’s next opportunity midway through the first half, receiving from Phoebe Williams on the right before driving a low ball across the box which would have found the foot of either Lumsden or Katie Wilkinson for a tap in should the decisive Whitehouse not have intervened.
Arguably the hosts' most impressive player in the first 45, Lumsden was at it again as the clocked stroked beyond 34 minutes, showing intent in her driving run from midfield before feeding Williams to the right of the box, her subsequent effort an accurate one but lacking in power.
The game would remain goalless going into the break, but the opening minutes of the second period proved a little more eventful.
Lewes’s number five, an unnamed trialist on this occasion, was the beneficiary of Rosie Parnell’s slashed clearance in her own box on 52 minutes, striking her left-footed volley cleanly toward Rendell’s bottom corner, but not with enough precision to beat the heroic recovery block of Parnell, the captain showing determination to make amends.
Eight minutes later and the away team, who were enjoying a bright spell early in the second half, would spurn another presentable chance. A long ball from the right floated toward Rendell’s far post seemed a comfortable one for Mott to deal with, but the full-back missed her header allowing another unnamed trialist a free strike at goal. Thankfully for Saints, her effort was a hurried and panicked one which flew harmlessly wide.
As the game grew in age and the on-pitch battle became more and more intense, inevitably fatigue began to creep into either side beyond the 85th minute, making the final moments of the encounter the most memorable of the afternoon.
Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s team would be the first to go agonisingly close, Ella Morris meeting Mott’s deep cross at the far post before nodding back into the path of second half substitute Alice Griffiths, the midfielder turning her marker sharply before firing a right-footed effort inches wide of Whitehouse’s far post.
With the game creeping into added-time, Griffiths tried her luck once more, showing tenacity to steal back possession before striking a low, left-footed effort from distance which forced Whitehouse into a fine diving stop.
With the crowd still digesting the late drama down at one end, Lewes quickly went up the other in search of their own last-gasp opportunity to snatch victory.
They would end up getting just that, Southampton initially doing well to clear the corner to safety before the ball was quickly hoisted back into the box and, after some pinball, Longhurst’s feet.
The attacker showed poise in her approach, taking a touch before firing a thunderous strike across goal which looked destined for Rendell’s bottom corner, the goalkeeper touching the ball onto the inside of her right post with a world-class fingertip save that ensured her side a deserved share of the spoils come full-time.