Reaction: Blues Women 3 Southampton 2
Head Coach Carla Ward revealed how Blues would maintain a special place in her heart after signing off her tenure with victory.
Mollie Green, Emily Murphy and Sarah Mayling got the goals as Blues progressed to the last-eight of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup with a 3-2 win over Southampton in Ward’s final game in charge.
And while she has chosen to stand down after defying the odds to secure Barclays FA Women’s Super League safety, Ward insists her maiden voyage into top-flight management with Blues has been a rewarding experience.
"I am absolutely gutted we did not get to see them [the fans] in the ground, they have been exceptional in their support on social media.
"They have backed me and the girls and I am sorry I won’t be seeing them next season but I hope they continue in that support of the group, I am sure they will and wish everyone at the Club all the very best.
"I have absolutely loved it. I have seen a lot of comments this week, a lot of people suggesting I will be leaving with negative thoughts towards the Club but the reality is the complete opposite.
"I have had an unbelievable time and learned so much, it has allowed me an opportunity to work in the Women’s Super League and there are some fantastic people at this Club, some fantastic players too and I can honestly say that I am leaving with really good, strong memories.
"I will be forever fond of this Club."
Blues had been in cruise control at three up during the second-half but the Saints refused to wave the white flag with two goals in the final seven minutes setting up a grandstand finish.
"I think we were in complete control until the 80th minute but you have to credit Southampton," added Ward.
"They do not have a tier-four side. They are worthy of Championship football, they are better than some of the teams in there and should be playing at that level in my opinion.
"They were well drilled, patient and excellent. They will go away feeling quite happy.
"For us it was one last shift and to our credit we were in control for those 80 minutes. We are not happy with the last 10 but ultimately we have to be happy with the way the season has ended.
"We have reached the quarter-final of the FA Cup after getting to the semi-final last of last season’s when we got back underway. We have stayed in the division as well so this group has a lot to be proud of."