Southampton FC Women’s manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale hailed her side’s work rate, as they battled to a 2-0 win over Portsmouth in the WNL Cup on Wednesday night.
Saints booked their place in the semi-finals of the competition thanks to two first half goals from Ella Pusey.
The first was converted after just 15 minutes, the striker being played through by the influential Ella Morris and slotting past the keeper to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Her second was just as cool, this time played in by Alisha Ware on the stroke of half time and finishing underneath the onrushing Pompey keeper.
“The first half we played some really nice football,” said Spacey-Cale. “We looked at how they played and looked to expose the areas we thought we’d have.
“But you’re never comfortable with a 2-0 score line, you knew that they would come at us because it was cup game, they had to.
“I think the second half showed how much we have matured. In terms of defensive discipline and soaking up pressure, not panicking and staying quite strong in our approach for the second half.
“I thought they were superb tonight. The work rate, the effort and the resilience to withhold [Pompey]. They pushed us and pushed us but we stayed firm and I’m really pleased and really proud of that.
“It was a really good advert for the women’s game, it was played in really good spirits and it felt like a proper cup tie between south coast rivals.
“I think there’s good respect from both teams in terms of the bigger picture; changing opinions and making people aware of how good the south coast is in terms of talent and playing.
Marieanne Spacey-CaleI thought they were superb. The work rate, the effort and the resilience to withhold [Pompey]. They pushed us and pushed us but we stayed firm and I'm really pleased and proud of that.
Southampton FC Women's Manager
Saints now face a trim up to Sunderland in the next round at the end of February, another opportunity for the side to test themselves according to Spacey-Cale.
“We want to challenge ourselves. If we get promoted we go on to play these types of teams week-in-week-out so we need to know what it looks like and what it feels like.
“It’s also about us maturing as we go and these games are such a valuable learning opportunity for us.”
Spacey-Cale’s side now turn their attention back to National League action, with the visit of Swindon Town to Snows Stadium on Sunday (2pm GMT).