Another week, another pre-season trip to Dublin for Southampton FC. This time, it’s Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side who are in Ireland preparing for the upcoming 2019/20 season.
It’s been a relatively seamless start to life as Southampton FC Women’s Head Coach for MSC, but, having secured promotion to the tier above following last year’s title winning campaign, the new season poses plenty more challenges.
Saints, who have been in Dublin since Sunday, were 3-2 victors over Shelbourne Ladies last night, having been 2-0 down after the first hour, and now have three more weeks of fine-tuning ahead of their inaugural season in the FA Women's National League.
“Being in Dublin has definitely been productive,” the former England international explained.
“Having some concentrated time with the players and the staff before the season is so important.
“When we're at home the girls are juggling work and school but here the sole focus is football. Being together is key for us, both on and off the pitch.”
Last night's game was Saints' third of pre-season, and all have been against teams that, in league terms, are above them in the pyramid.
Nevertheless, MSC has been pleased with the level of competition and the progress her young side have made in such a short space of time, not least against Shelbourne, where 16-year-old Alisha Ware netted twice to draw level, before vice-captain Shannon Sievwright hit the winner.
"Pre-season is about challenging yourself," Marieanne continued. "We've had three friendlies now and the girls are beginning to implement our game plan.
"They went 2-0 down to a very good team last night but responded well; they trusted each other, believed in one another and won the game.
"The standard of play overall was good. I was pleased to see some resilience and the goals themselves were good quality.
"Competing is key. Firstly, against our opposition, but also against one another because the squad is big and there will be competition for places this season.
"The training intensity has increased, standards on the pitch are higher and that creates an appetite. It's really driving the group on."