Ladies End Southampton Women’s Unbeaten Record

30th November 2018

Annie Martin’s second-half strike was enough in a closely fought contest for Cheltenham Town Ladies to become the first team to beat Southampton Women’s this season.

 Martin’s finish for Town in the 76thminute ended Southampton Women’s unbeaten streak and earned the hosts a valuable three points in this season’s title race.

The win for Cheltenham takes them just two points off Southampton in the division.

The first-half of the game produced some very impressive moments from the away side, who came with a game-plan to retain possession at all costs.

This meant the Cheltenham team were in for a long afternoon of running, with the opposition consistently playing out from their defence.

Cheltenham only recorded their first shot on target almost 40 minutes into the game – but Martin’s shot from range was easily dealt with by Issy Foster.

The hosts soon had a glorious chance to take the lead right on half-time, but Sally Butterfield couldn’t keep her half-volley down.

It was a much improved last 10 minutes of the first-half for Town, who spent most of the first-half running off the ball.

Southampton had a huge penalty appeal straight after the restart, but despite the protests of the players and the staff; the referee shook his head.

The visitors then had their best chance from a corner, but Roxanne Lee-Stewart’s shot blazed over Bec Pannier’s crossbar.

Martin came close with just 20 minutes remaining with a long-range effort that had Foster scrambling back in her goal, but she managed to collect the ball.

But Cheltenham’s star striker wasn’t to be denied for a second time. An excellent through ball from Ella Hitchcox saw Martin through on goal. The angle tightened but Martin’s finishing ability was too much for Foster.

The Southampton goalkeeper got the slightest of touches to it, but the precision from Martin saw her record her 19thgoal of the season.

Hannah Samuels had a great chance for Southampton with minutes remaining, but she couldn’t test Panniers.

Some late pressure from Southampton but overall such a solid performance from Cheltenham, who showed superb perseverance and justified their position in the league table.

Cheltenham manager Alex Cheal revealed that a “game-plan” set up on Tuesday night was integral to his side’s victory at the DN Fire Stadium.

“I’m delighted,” Cheal said. “They were unbeaten and you can see why! It’s the first time we’ve ever beat them.

“We just came up with a game-plan on Tuesday night in training and that helped us massively today.”

Cheal also expressed the belief that the win will give the team as they look to maintain their terrific early form.

“We’ve always had the belief,” Cheal explained. “I just said to the girls; we won eight out of eight and we started to feel too comfortable. We weren’t playing as well as we could have against the teams around us (in the league table).

“That’s a great way to cap off a very difficult few weeks. The girls are buzzing and I’m so pleased with how hard they all worked today.”

Town captain Sarah Walters was sure that her team deserved the marginal win.

“Yes, definitely (Cheltenham deserved the win),” Walters said. “We frustrated them for 90 minutes. We were good on and off the ball and we carried a threat up-front.

“I can’t fault any one of the ladies today. We were all brilliant.”

Team: Panniers, Purvis, Ellis (Morris), Walters, Dolloway, Wilkins (Newns), Brown, Hitchcox, Butterfield, Davies (Fensome), Martin.

Subs; Knuckey, Hateley.

Attendance: 76

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