SAINTS FC Women were dealt a huge blow to their Bar­clays Wom­en’s Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tion hopes as they were beat­en 2–1 by Black­burn Rovers at Ewood Park on Sun­day after­noon.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side start­ed slow­ly and found them­selves 2–0 down after only 12 min­utes through a Megan Horn­by dou­ble.

Mol­ly Pike did pull a goal back lat­er in the first half but the vis­i­tors were not able to find the net again.

The result leaves Saints in fourth place in the Cham­pi­onship with only three games left to play and are now four points behind lead­ers Sun­der­land.

The result also means they have suf­fered eight defeats in the league this sea­son which is twice the num­ber of loss­es the top two sides — Sun­der­land and Crys­tal Palace — have suf­fered this sea­son.

Alice Grif­fiths was the sole replace­ment in the Saints line-up for the trip to Black­burn, tak­ing the place of top scor­er Katie Wilkin­son.

Southamp­ton missed Wilkin­son’s edge in the final on Wom­en’s Foot­ball Week­end and may now be out of the pro­mo­tion hunt as a result.

To make mat­ters worse, all of Southamp­ton’s pro­mo­tion rivals — bar Charl­ton Ath­let­ic — won their games on Sun­day.

Crys­tal Palace beat Wat­ford 3–0 at home while Birm­ing­ham put two unan­swered goals past Lewes to secure a 2–0 win.

Both of those sides sit between Saints and table-top­pers Sun­der­land, who won 5–3 against Durham but pos­sess a game in hand.

Speak­ing ahead of the game to Sky Sports, the Saints boss insist­ed how impor­tant it is to start turn­ing defeats into draws.

She said: “We are a young side and some­times you want to turn zero points to one point and that’s cer­tain­ly some­thing that we would look to devel­op and grow from.

“If we’ve learned any­thing, it’s how to get a point from a posi­tion where some­times you deserve the point, and we’ve just not quite cracked that yet.”

Southamp­ton wel­come Lewes to St Mary’s next Sun­day before their final two games of the sea­son against Lon­don City Lioness­es and Charl­ton Ath­let­ic. 

Saints: Ren­dell; Col­lett (Lloyd-Smith, 76), Mott, Peake, Pur­field; Kendall, Primus; Mor­ris, Pharoah, Pike; Grif­fiths (Thomp­son, 82)

Unused Subs: Raf­fer­ty, Wynne, Haa­land, Milne

Black­burn Rovers: Brooks, Mur­phy (Seed, 83), Coan, Toland, Richards, Williams (Wal­ters, 66), Horn­by (Thomas, 83), Tay­lor, Shep­herd (Dahou, 77), Hutch­ings (Chan­darana, 77), Robert­son

Unused Subs: Doyle, Hilli­er-Knox, Sal­ga­do

Goals: Horn­by 5’

Horn­by 12’

Pike 38’