SAINTS Women’s captain Rosie Parnell declared the fans “unreal” as they cheered her side on to secure promotion to the Championship next season.

Defender Parnell helped marshal her teammates to a clean sheet, while Sophia Pharoah’s solitary goal in the first-half was enough to dispatch Wolves 1-0 at Stockport County.

The two National League winners had to go all-in to secure promotion to the second division, with the one-off play-off final held nearly three weeks after the season’s conclusion.

But the tense set-up makes for all the better celebrations, as Parnell told the Daily Echo: “The fans, it’s unreal. We are what, four or five hours away from home and look at it.

“I think we have got used to long journeys, we have had about five or six in a row and it is just team bonding – you have to use them the right way. We had an early start yesterday so we spent a lot of time together, we set up exactly the same as any normal game.”

She added: “I think it’s credit to the staff making sure we do our mobility, they’re there if we need anything and they get us in the best shape possible regardless of if we’re home or away.

“I think we found it harder with 10 players than 11, we started the first-half well but I don’t think we actually got out of first gear, but you don’t have to perform at your best in games like this – you just have to get the job done.”

Saints had been enjoying their first season in the National League after readjustments were made to the divisions following campaigns of curtailment due to COVID.

Although the infrastructure has been set up for a deserved place in the second division, Parnell now says she is happy it had to come through playing.

“I came three years ago and COVID has delayed us a bit, last summer you could only go up one league but I’d rather do it on the pitch, rather than off it. It’s a much better feeling,” she said.

“We did well in the league, but I wouldn’t say we smashed it. Ipswich and Oxford run us to the end of the season, you had to perform every week, whoever it was against – it was a competitive season.”

Daily Echo:

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