Match Report

FAWNL: Southampton FC Women v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Saints secure their place in the Championship after an impressive 1-0 victory over Wolves in the FAWNL play-off

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Paul Donegan

22 May 2022

A first half goal from Sophia Pharoah was good enough for Southampton to win the FA Women’s National League Championship Play-Off Final against Wolverhampton Wanderers and gain promotion to the FA Women’s Championship. Pharoah’s strike came during a first half in which Southampton had the better of the chances and could have been further ahead at the break. Wolves had to play with ten players for the whole of the second half after Kelly Darby got sent off for two bookings on the stroke of half time.

Southampton had the first chance in the 7th minute when Pharoah played a lovely ball to Lucia Kendall but she saw her lob saved by Wolves goalkeeper Shan Turner. From the resulting corner, Alice Griffiths sent a long range shot well wide.

Wolves had their first efforts in the 9th minute when both Beth Merrick and Marie Gauntlett saw shots blocked. Both sides had shots easily saved in the next ten minutes, Pharoah for Southampton and Amber Hughes for Wolves.

In the 21st minute, Southampton’s Leeta Rutherford saw her header from a free kick saved. A minute later, Southampton had another opportunity when Kendall saw her shot from around 18-yards out kept out by Turner.

Southampton did take the lead seconds later when Georgia Freeland’s nice through ball found Pharoah in space who controlled, went round Turner and finished low into the net from about 12 yards.
The game then went into a bit of a quiet spell chance wise during which Darby was booked for a foul in the 33rd minute.

Southampton went close to extending their lead in the 35th minute when Kendall’s free kick from around 20-yards hit the post and bounced out to Griffiths but she sent the rebound over.

A dangerous Southampton corner caused problems with Turner colliding with the post and needing some treatment. Rosie Parnell was booked for Southampton as she stopped a quick Wolves attack.
Wolves had a chance just before half time when a header back from a free kick bounced off Tammi George and went behind.

In first half additional time, Darby committed a foul right in front of the dugouts, and after referee Lauren Impey had had a quick word with the assistant referee, the Wolves number 15 was shown a second yellow card followed by a red and was sent off.

Southampton had the first opportunities of the second half when Pharoah saw an effort saved in the 47th minute, and a minute late Kendall’s lob went just wide.

Despite being down to 10 players, Wolves did cause Southampton problems and they had some chances during the second half. The first of these came in the 51st minute when George played in Merrick but her shot was blocked. In the 60th minute, Hughes saw her curling shot from the edge of the area held by Southampton goalie Kayla Rendell. Eight minutes later, Merrick dragged a shot wide from about 20 yards after some sloppy defending from Southampton.

Southampton brought on Katie Rood in the 75th minute, and two minutes later she sent a shot from an angle just wide.

Anna Price headed wide a corner for Wolves in the 81st minute as they continued to look for an equaliser.
Rood had another opportunity for Southampton in the 86th minute but this time saw her header from a long free kick go wide.

In second half additional time, Wolves had their final chance when Alie Miller headed the ball back to George who sent her shot over.

The final whistle went a few minutes later and the celebrations could begin for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s Southampton as they won 1-0 and secured promotion to the Championship after just one season in the National League Southern Premier Division.

Line ups

Southampton (4-2-3-1): Rendell, Mott, Rafferty, Parnell, Collett (Rood 75’), Rutherford, Griffiths, Freeland (Morris 62’), Kendall, Ware, Pharoah
Unused substitutes: Luce, Watling, Pusey
Goal – Pharoah 22’
Booked - Cross

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Turner, Darby, Cross, Morphet, Cross, George, Price, Cooper, Merrick, Hughes, Gauntlett (Miller 69’)
Unused substitutes: Dicken, Walker, Elsmore, Burridge
Booked – Darby
Sent Off – Darby (second yellow card)

Referee – Lauren Impey
Attendance – 1,354