With so many games being cancelled due to the poor weather on Saturday, there was a genuine risk that this FA Cup tie would be postponed for the second week in a row. The pitch certainly benefitted with Romsey Town‘s men’s game against Fawley being called off the day before. This was the first game that I’d been able to go to since early October, and while it’s only been just over three weeks, it felt like a lot longer!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will know that I sponsor Southampton Women‘s attacker, EJ May, and part of the sponsorship package is a season ticket to watch her and her teammates. When I arrived I was anticipating that my name would be on a list in the box office but no, I received an actual season ticket. While we’re only talking about a laminated card it was something tangible with my name on it. This gesture made me feel like my modest contribution was valued by the club and it was very much appreciated.
The pitch was littered with leaves at one end and potentially boggy in some small areas but there was no standing water so it looked good to go. Local youth team, St Francis, had provided a number of their U7 and U8 players to be mascots for the day and it was great to see them there. Hopefully they will have picked up a few role models during the game and they’ll return the support the side during the season.
Former WSL player at Yeovil, Erin Bloomfield, was making her home debut and along with Jane Yeates, the pair looked lively going forward. Southampton Women began to dominate the game and in the fifteenth and sixteenth minute both Aine McKeever and Lauren Cheshire had chances but were unable to covert.
It wasn’t long before the home side took the lead through Yeates. A high looping cross was delivered from Hannah Samuels and found Yeates on the right hand side of the box. The forward watched the ball onto her right boot, hitting a volley over the Bournemouth keeper, Steph Small, giving her no chance.
The lead it doubled after some great work on the right hand side by Bloomfield. Her ball in takes an unfortunate deflection off Maisy Smith and from point blank range Small cannot do anything about it.
I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the sun which was shining brightly towards the Bournemouth goal but the visitors were struggling to deal with crosses and it was another ball in from the right which resulted in Southampton Women’s third goal. Small save from Bloomfield’s intial shot but McKeever was the first to react to score at the second attempt.
As both teams came out for the second half, Southampton with one foot in the next round and Bournemouth looking at their first defeat of the season unless they raise their game.
Maisy Smith was particularly impressive in the early stages for Bournemouth, going into some strong challenges against Bloomfield. This committed defending seemed to give Bournemouth a bit of hope. I pitched up behind their goal thinking that would be the best view of the action but no, the visitors began to assert themselves on the game and pinning the home in their own half.
In the first twenty minutes of the second half it’s all Bournemouth although despite their possession and territory they fail to really test Rose Kite in the Southampton Women goal.
In the 64th minute, our sponsored player, EJ May, comes on for the impressive youngster, Tia Hooper. She and her teammates are unable to turn the tide back in their favour with Bournemouth looking the more dominant side. Bloomfield was always looked a threat going forward and for me was unfair penalised my the referee.
With less than ten minutes to go, May had the ball at her feet on the edge of the box after the keeper spills the ball. She took a touch to find a better angle and was quickly surrounded by three Bournemouth players who nullified the threat.
At the other end Bournemouth were able to grab a deserved consolation goal from substitute, Erin Thickett. It is Southampton Women that progress into the next round where they take on Portishead this coming Sunday, again at The Bypass Ground.
Southampton Women: Kite, Cheshire (c), Samuels, White, Warren, McKeever, Vokes, Yeates, Holden, Hooper, Bloomfield
Subs: Tonks, May, Wernham
AFC Bournemouth: Small, Jones, Davis, Kingshott, Wort, Smith, Topping, Bennett (c), Miles, Eden, Vella
Subs: Scadding, Thickett, White, Hall, Corbin