Southampton Women have started the 2021/22 season in style and have claimed back-to-back 9-0 wins in the English third tier.
Marianne Spacey-Cale’s side have won all five of their league fixtures so far and have scored 26 goals in all whilst conceding just one and this has put them joint-top of the table with Ipswich Town.
After successive promotions in 2018/19 and 2020/21 – the former based on league performance and the latter after applying for upwards movement because of results in curtailed seasons – the club now look to have a great chance of playing in the Women’s Championship next year.
A big part of their progress in 2021/22 has been the signings that they added to their squad that have provided a huge amount of experience from the higher levels.
Southampton Women continuing their strong rise towards the very top
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One player that was signed is Laura Rafferty. She has played in the Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship whilst continuing to be a Northern Ireland international and saw the opportunity for a fresh start with Saints – where she started her career as a youth player before moving on to Chelsea.
The core of the squad is the same as previous campaigns and is still serving them well, but three other signings were made to add some quality to the depth available.
New Zealand international striker Katie Rood was brought in from Lewes, whilst experienced midfielder Leeta Rutherford joined from Championship outfit Crystal Palace.
Laura Rafferty was also joined by her fellow Northern Ireland international Ciara Watling. She also brings a healthy appearance record for some of the more established clubs in England and was turning out for Charlton Athletic last season.
There have been some promising signs that the new players are settling in. Watling already has five goals to her name, including a hat-trick in the 9-0 win over Hounslow last weekend, whilst Rutherford netted two in the 3-0 win over Plymouth Argyle back in mid-August.