CTLFC 2-3 Southampton FC

13th September 2021

Report by Jamie Cameron

Cheltenham Town Ladies fell to a narrow defeat against Southampton FC Women, but gave the Southern Premier Division leaders a stern test at the Corinium Stadium.

The Saints had scored 26 goals and conceded just one so far in the tier above the Robins, and had won 9-0 in both of their last two outings.

Despite Cheltenham’s strong start to the season, they were underdogs for this National League Cup tie, but took the lead via a sensational lob from Abby Bevan (pictured).

Southampton then showed their class, scoring either side of half-time to lead 2-1, and making it three on 75 minutes.

Although Mai Butler’s first goal of the season reduced the deficit back to one, it was too late, with Cheltenham now going into the National League Plate.

Tom Davies gave a start to Jade Grove after the number nine returned to the club from a short spell at Oxford United. Courtney Jones was also handed her first start of the campaign.

The Robins immediately asserted themselves on the game in what was a physical performance, a strategy which certainly limited the visitors.

Southampton still managed to create chances early on, though, as goalkeeper Aimee Watson made the first of a number of saves, and a visiting forward headed over from close range.

More good defending meant Cheltenham kept the Saints at bay, before Bevan became the latest Robins player to score from distance this season.

She spotted the ‘keeper off her line from 30 yards, and lobbed the ball into the net with perfect precision.

That clearly shook Southampton, and they almost handed Cheltenham another goal when a defender headed back towards her own net, and the ball trickled narrowly past the post after a miscommunication.

It took the Saints a while to start threatening again, but the final 15 minutes of the first-half were an onslaught of pressure.

They did level on 43 minutes when Lucia Kendall found the bottom-right corner from inside the area.

And that proved a catalyst for the tier three side, as Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s team went 2-1 ahead six minutes after half-time via Georgie Freeland’s low strike.

The Robins continued to defend excellently and stayed well in the game until Sophia Pharoah volleyed home emphatically to make it three on 75 minutes.

Ella Pusey struck the outside of the post as the Saints continued to push, but Cheltenham captain Butler had the last say, poking home after the ball dropped down from a cross.

That was the final action of an entertaining game, and despite going out of the National League Cup, it’s another performance for Davies’ team to be proud of, giving one of the best sides outside of the top two tiers a real examination.

Cheltenham: Watson, Hallsworth (Walecki 89), Butler, Barbour-Gresham, Jones, Criddle, Bevan, Haynes, Hayward (Donnelly 85), Grove, Wathan.

Robins’ Player of the Match: Abby Bevan.

For the digital match programme for this game, click here.

D2 Interactive