SAINTS Women’s 100 per cent record ended with a big blow, in a 2-0 defeat to fellow promotion-rivals Ipswich Town at Snows Stadium.

Natasha Thomas and Zoe Baratt’s strikes inflicted the first loss on Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side and extended the Tractor Girls’ lead at the top of the table to nine points.

Although both teams hadn’t dropped a point in the league prior to kick-off, Southampton began the match six points behind their visitors, having played two less games.

A 900-strong crowd turned out at the home of AFC Totton to support the Saints side in the crunch affair.

The game had even more bite after Saints had dumped Ipswich out of the National League Cup at the beginning of November, via a late Lucia Kendall effort securing the 1-0 win.

And the opening stages of this contest were unsurprisingly cagey, with both teams trading half-chances for much of the first period.

However, Thomas was able to give her side the advantage at the close of the half, rising highest to head Abbie Lafayette’s free-kick beyond Kayla Rendell in the Saints net.

Although Saints were battling to find a way back in, it was a lapse of concentration that allowed Ipswich to double their lead – substitute Maddie Biggs turning a long free-kick back across goal for Baratt to slam in off the underside of the bar.

Ipswich saw out the tie with maturity, despite a Kendall corner almost going directly in but for a goalline clearance from the visitors’ Lucy Egan.