Southampton 1-0 Sunderland: Ella Pusey poaches to make the difference
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Ella Pusey of Southampton goal celebration during the Barclays FA Women's Championship match between Sheffield United Women and Southampton F.C. Women at Bramall Lane on October 23, 2022 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

Ella Pusey made it two goals in two games to fire Southampton up to second place in the FA Women's Championship.

The forward scored her second goal of the season just after the break, cleverly poaching Katie Wilkinson’s knockdown as she caught the Sunderland backline napping.

Southampton looked to make it three consecutive wins, and their midfield four put in a dominant display in their men’s stadia to do so.

The result sees Sunderland remain in 11th place as their season’s teething problems continue.

On the contrary, it keeps Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side very much in the promotion picture.

Story of the Match

Southampton came into the fixture off of two consecutive wins.

On the contrary, Sunderland were still nursing a sore 2-0 loss to promotion contenders London City.

The Saints started strong with a fast first fifteen.

Seven minutes in, Paige Peake played a looped ball in behind which found Lucia Kendall out wide.

She squared the ball towards the penalty spot, but nobody was home to tap it in and the ball was cleared.

The game pace slowed down from here and Southampton took control of the somewhat cagey affair.

As they dominated the middle of the park, any attempt at a Sunderland counterattack was shut down almost solely by Milly Mott

She intercepted countless loose balls and also spared teammate Ella Morris’ blushes after recovering her poor pass.

A Sunderland corner from Tyler Dodds 20 minutes in brought the first big chance of the game.

The ball flew across the touchline and was cleared back out to the taker.

But Mott was present once again.

She immediately pressed and tapped the ball off an attacker’s shin to win the goal kick.

Paige Peake was Southampton’s creative provider throughout the first half, pinging passes left and right to constantly switch the play.

She found Megan Wynne, who played Morris into the box - but once again, there was nobody near the penalty spot to pounce.

Sunderland answered with a chance of their own ten minutes later in the 40th minute.

Emily Scarr found space outside of the box and lifted the ball towards the top left corner, but Saints keeper Kayla Rendell rose high and palmed the ball out for a corner.

Only one minute of injury time was added on, reflecting the cagey nature of the first half, and it was goalless going into the break - a first for Southampton since October 2nd.

Five minutes into the second half, some poor dribbling from captain Rosie Parnell saw her dispossessed by Dodds on the halfway line.

The Sunderland winger caught the home team in transition and surged through on goal.

While the Saint dealt with the scare, it was a spark of creativity which really reinvigorated the game.

Two minutes later, Scarr was through on goal for the Black Cats.

She managed to fake out the keeper and almost had her beaten, but her finessed shot smashed into the far post and bounced away from danger.

The game opened up at both ends.

Southampton countered and won a corner - which then resulted in a whipped ball onto the penalty spot and a goal-line clearance from Sunderland keeper Claudia Moan.

But an exciting few minutes climaxed, with the deadlock finally being broken.

Wilkinson lept high to win a header on the edge of the box, which fell loose in between the two Sunderland centre-backs.

Pusey wasted no time in latching onto the ball.

She surprised the defenders from a blind spot and poached, rolling a tidy finish past Moan in the 57th minute.

The forward has had to wait for her opportunity but has been trusted with six appearances this season, and Spacey-Cale’s faith in the forward is already being repaid.

Southampton had the Itchen Centre behind them and maintained control of the game with the support of 2799 home fans. 

They had a flurry of chances which Sunderland had the answers for as they tyrannized possession of the ball.

The efficiency of Southampton’s backline meant that the away side were limited to just a handful of tame shots from outside of the box.

But in the last minute, the Black Cats did provide a scare, as Dodds came one-on-one with Rendell in their last tussle of the afternoon.

Her powerful effort was blasted straight into the middle of the goal, and Rendell came out on top to secure the clean sheet by pushing the ball behind into the Northam.

The Saints rounded out the three points, deserving the result off of their own merit through the midfield unit’s impressive display.

Player of the Match - Milly Mott

A fan favourite at both Snows Stadium and St Mary’s, the English defender proved why she is admired yet again.

Milly Mott kept her opposite number in her back pocket.

She nullified the usual threat of Brianna Westrup with her pace and constantly opened up space with her footwork by cutting inside and gliding through the half-spaces.

It’s easy to forget how young she is too, and at just 18 years of age, her stock is bound to rise even further.

She was one of many standout talents that did their part to secure a routine win.