Blues at the fifth time of asking have got their first three points of the season against the league leaders Southampton. The game finished 1-3 and it could have been more with Christie Harrison-Murray missing a penalty and some wonderful goalkeeping from Southampton’s goalkeeper Kayla Rendell with some truly world class saves . Firstly both clubs should be proud of themselves after giving a beautiful tribute to former Blues player and Sheffield United player Maddie Cusack who sadly passed away, it was an emotional moment for all.
Blues started of brilliantly and has early has the sixth minute they thought there should have been a penalty, but it was waved away from the ref Phoebe Cross .
A minute later Blues thought their had taken the lead with a cross from Charlie Devlin and Neve Herron header but it was brilliantly saved by Rendell to keep it 0-0 .
The Saints first chance of the game came for Katie Wilkinson, her header went wide of the post for the hosts in the 10th minute.
A minute later the breakthrough came for Blues m. A brilliant through ball from the Captain Christie Harrison-Murray found Libby Smith who went round Rendell and slotted it home to make it 0-1 the start that they wanted.
In the 17th minute the Saints could have equalized with Wilkinson again with a cross that was going into the goal, but Lucy Thomas tipped it over the bar for a corner. Then a huge chance for Blues to double the lead, referee Phoebe Cross pointed to the spot after a Southampton player handled the ball. The captain Christie Harrison-Murray took responsibility, but her effort was easily saved.
The last chance of the half came for Blues when Mason crossed it but Devlin’s header went well wide of the goal.
HALF TIME SOUTHAMPTON 0-1 BLUES
The second half was relatively quiet, Southampton came closest when Atlanta Primus had a shot well saved by Thomas in the 55th minute.
Then some controversy in the 67th minute, Southampton should have had a penalty when Ellie Mason brought down Primus but the referee Cross waved it away. We would have been livid if this was a decision Blues needed.
This came back to haunt Southampton when five minutes later Blues doubled the lead. Ivanna Fuso went down the wing her first cross was blocked but it rebounded to her and crossed it to Libby Smith who tapped it past a frustrated Rendell to make it 0-2.
Blues were playing with confidence now and in the 75th minute they should have put the game to bed with Lily Agg, but her header went straight at the keeper.
In the 82nd minute Southampton had a chance with Ella Morris but her shot went over the bar. This was quickly followed up by a shot from Fuso but it was well saved by Rendell.
With time ticking away Blues killed the game when Claudia Walker’s cross was deflected by Rosie Parnell to make it 0-3. The saints didn’t give up and pulled a goal back in the 96th minute through Emily Kraft. The clean sheet may have been taken but not the three well deserved points.
FULL TIME SOUTHAMPTON 1-3 BLUES
MY THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
When I looked at this fixture last week, I was worried with the form we were in and the Saints at the top of the tree. All plaudits go to Darren and the back room staff as we were really comfortable and playing some really exciting football, All of this without the suspended Jade Pennock. It was a performance of real quality, desire and determination and I’m so pleased for the group. Everyone was together and even after Christie’s penalty was missed our heads didn’t drop and that was so brilliant to see. Hopefully now we can kick on from here and continue the hard work.
MY PLAYER OF THE MATCH
The whole team were great but I award it to the brilliant Libby Smith. I am so happy for her as she doesn’t always get the credit that she deserves. Her work-rate and her never say die attitude along with her goals on Sunday made a tough decision easier, her first goal scoring from a tight angle to make it one nil was quality.
Another tough test against the inform black cats at St Andrews next Sunday at 14:00
KRO STEPHEN GILL