Southampton FC: Spacey-Cale hails defensive resolve after extending Championship run

Southampton F.C. Women earn a draw against Championship leaders London City in last league fixture of 2022.
Marieanne Spacey-Cale says Southampton are proving they belong in the Championship in their first season after promotion

Southampton F.C. manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale says their promising start to life in the Championship owes much to their defensive solidity.

Saints are fourth, just two points off the top of the table, in their maiden season in the second tier having lost only one of their first 10 games.

"We are hard to beat," Spacey-Cale told BBC Radio Solent.

"One of the things this squad does is soak up a lot of pressure and defend really well."

Southampton drew 1-1 with league leaders London City Lionesses on Sunday - equalising with a late penalty from Paige Peake - to extend their unbeaten league run to nine matches.

"It was great to score my first goal for the club," said the defender.

"I try to practice penalties as much as I can so it becomes routine and I am ready for those pressure situations."

'We believe in ourselves'

Southampton have the joint best record over the last five games in the Championship with three wins and two draws.

Peake, who was one of Southampton's key summer signings, believes the squad are surprising some of their opponents.

"In the Championship every game is competitive. You've got to be on top form all the time. Everyone can win and that's the great thing about this league.

Southampton F.C. Women earn a draw against Championship leaders London City in last league fixture of 2022.
Southampton defender Paige Peake (right) says her teammates "took all the stick" from London City players before her late penalty

"We've taken points from teams at the top all season which shows that we're competing and deserve to be where we are.

"We've got a great group and we believe in ourselves - we're fighting."

Southampton travel to Bristol City - a point above them in second place in the league - in the third round of the Vitality Women's FA Cup on Sunday before closing out 2022 with a home fixture against Tottenham in the FA Women's Continental League Cup.

"We wouldn't have thought when we got promoted to the Championship that we would be in the position that we are at this point in the season. I'm really proud," said Spacey-Cale.

"We're really challenging and testing ourselves every week. Where we are is a reflection of the work the girls put in week-in and week-out. The girls give everything and the supporters have been brilliant cheering us on.

"Unbeaten since the first game of the season, we'll take that every day. It's a nice early Christmas present."