Southampton beat Wolves to seal promotion to Women's Championship | OneFootball
Southampton beat Wolves to seal promotion to Women's Championship
Southampton have sealed promotion to the Championship with victory over Wolves in the Women's National League play-off final.
A well-taken first half goal from Sophia Pharoah proved decisive at Stockport's Edgeley Park on Saturday afternoon as the Saints secured the singular promotion spot to English football's second tier for the first time in their history.
Wolves were forced to play the entirety of the second period with 10 players following Kelly Darby's dismissal on the stroke of half-time.
The fixture pitted the pair against one another in a winner takes all shot at a spot in the Championship after both sides won their respective leagues: Southampton the Southern Premier Division and Wolves the Northern Premier Division.
Southampton - managed by former Arsenal and England great Marieanne Spacey-Cale - saw off competition from Ipswich and Oxford to top their division during their debut season in the third tier. The Saints were granted promotion to the Southern Premier Division just last summer after their 2020/21 National League Division One South West campaign was curtailed due to Covid-19.
Wolves got the better of Derby, Fylde and Burnley to top the Northern Premier Division, and were without manager Daniel McNamara for Saturday's fixture as he was away on an overseas mission with the RAF.
Southampton netted their decisive goal 21 minutes in, Pharoah receiving the ball from Georgie Freeland, rounding Shan Turner in the Wolves goal and slotting home.
Wolves' task was made all the more tricky on the cusp on half time as Darby was sent off for kicking Alisha Ware, but they turned in a spirited second half display to ensure a nervy finish for the Saints.
Tammi George blazed over from close range in stoppage time with Wolves' clearest sighting of goal as they pushed for an equaliser, but Southampton held firm and huge cheers greeted the final whistle at Edgeley Park.
Southampton - who have already attracted four figure crowds when they have turned out at St Mary's this season - will now play in the second tier for the first time in their history during the 2022/23 season.
FK Liepāja Riga FC Turan Turkistan Tobol KR Víkingur Reykjavík Shakhter Karagandy Aktobe Atyrau Taraz SK Super Nova FK Auda ÍBV Breidablik Astana Maqtaaral Aksu Kyzyl-Zhar FK Tukums 2000/Telms FK Metta Kairat Akzhayik Ordabasy Kaspiy Leiknir Reykjavík ÍA FH Stjarnan FK Auda BFC Daugavpils Turan Turkistan Aktobe FK Tukums 2000/Telms FK Spartaks BFC Daugavpils Valmiera FC Bodø / Glimt Jerv Rosenborg Tromsø Sandefjord Molde