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Southampton Women have got off to a great start in their first season in the FA Women's Premier League since winning promotion to South West Division One, their 5-1 victory over Brislington on Sunday being their fifth straight win.
We talked to Southampton striker Emma Pinner, one of the goalscorers against Brislington and the team's leading scorer this season, and whilst admitting that their second half performance was much better than in the first, she praised the team's determination and insisted that they are capable of staying in the hunt for the title this season:
WSS: That's five wins out of five for Southampton now, how pleased were you with the way the team played on Sunday?
EP: Yeah it's great to get five wins out of five under our belts. Sunday, we went into the game not knowing much about Brislington due to the mixed results they've had recently. We didn't start the game how we planned and as a team, we felt we didn't have a very good first half with breakdowns in communication and doing simple things messily. At the end of the first half we took our chance on a break forward and were able to go into half time feeling motivated and pumped to play more to our standard in the second half. The second half was a different game completely and we got the ball down and were able to find gaps to gets shots away as well as scoring a few great team goals. It's great to play in a team like this where everyone will fight for each other till the final whistle has been blown.
WSS: After you fell behind early on, just how big a moment in the game was the goal by Laura Vokes in first half injury time?
EP: It was a huge moment in the game. It was a great goal by Laura, and I think that left Brislington going into the changing rooms feeling frustrated and it left us feeling pumped and ready to get the second half underway.
WSS: Has the team's start to the season exceeded expectations or were you always confident of making the step up after promotion?
EP: I think we've always been confident we can play up in higher leagues. Last season we knew we worked hard and deserved to get into the league we are in now. We've got a great bunch of girls here and I don't think we've ever gone into a game thinking we were going to struggle or lose.
WSS: The other two 100% teams in the division, Plymouth and Keynsham, meet each other on Sunday, would the best result for you be a draw?
EP: They do, it will be interesting to see what the result is from that game, but I think at this early stage a draw would be a good result for us.
WSS: Your game this week is away to St Nicholas, will this be a case of avoiding complacency going into the match?
EP: Definitely, as we are in a new league, each team brings a different obstacle and we are still learning how each team plays. We haven't played St Nicholas yet, so we haven't got much to go on other than some previous results. We need to compose ourselves as a team and play our football and I'm sure we can come away from this game with a good result.
WSS: Your squad is largely an experienced one with a lot of players who have played at this level before, has this been a big help in adjusting to this league?
EP: We have got quite an experienced squad and that does help in some ways because we understand what it takes to play at this level of football. However I wouldn't say that experience is key to our success, I think our determination is. We don't have one weak link within our team, everyone fights to keep their position on the team sheet each week. I think a lot of the football we were playing last season could have easily been in the league above and we've all been hungry to play against bigger and better teams and push on as far as we can.
WSS: Can you see the title race in the division remaining a close one throughout the season?
EP: I can see the title race being very close between the top three. We don't play Plymouth until after Christmas and we have Keynsham just before. However slip ups in this league are possible and points can be dropped from any game if we become complacent. We just need to be focused on the next match we have and come away from that with a win.
WSS: Southampton have a great history in the women's game and it is great to see them on the rise again, how far do you think the club can go potentially?
EP: We have got a great history at the club, and it's amazing to feel as if we've been adding to the club's history each season at a time. We want to grow the club slowly, bringing in younger teams year on year and focus on giving quality coaching using quality facilities. This means finding the right coaches and finding slots on good 3G or 4G pitches, which is tough round here. I don't think we let ourselves put a lid on how far we can go, we battle hard for every game we play, and with the set up and players we have at Southampton Women's F.C. I have no doubt we can play in leagues above this one too.
Our thanks to Emma!
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