Southampton FC Women fought valiantly and continued their FA Cup preparations with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Championship winners Leicester City on Sunday.
Before the game both teams observed a minute’s applause in memory of Julie ‘Chippy’ Chipchase, a legendary Doncaster Rovers Belles player who went on to work with the England Women’s senior set-up amongst other clubs through her coaching career.
The opening goal of the game came the way of the Foxes, Natasha Flint letting fly from the edge of the box and finding the side netting after 20 minutes.
But it didn’t take long for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side to find an equaliser; just 12 minutes later a long free-kick by Caitlin Morris eventually fell to the feet of Lucia Kendall who took a touch before slotting the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-1.
Unfortunately for Saints the hosts, who will play Super League football next season, went back ahead after only five minutes in what was a frantic opening half an hour.
A corner was floated in from the right side and with the visitors unable to clear defender Sophie Howard smashed the ball home in what was the final goal of the game.
The second half saw Spacey-Cale ring the changes throughout, Georgie Freeland and Kirsty Whitton amongst those who were introduced, but neither side could find that all important next goal.
Saints now have a week to prepare for their visit to Birmingham City on the 16th May as they search for a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Leicester City starting XI: Levell, Howard, Plumptre, Tierney, O’Brien, Barker, Allen, Cain, Camwell (Fleming 57’), Paul, Flint.
Leicester City subs: Fleming
Saints starting XI: Rendell, Provan, Parnell, C.Morris, E.Morris (Evans 80’), Sievwright (Whitton 80’), Williams, Panting (Ware 45’), Kendall (Freeland 65’), Pharoah (Castagna 88’), Pusey.
Saints subs: Luce, Whitton, Fripp, Freeland, Ware, Evans, Castagna, Mott, Da Silva.