SAINTS Women fell to their fourth league defeat of the season after Kayleigh Green's deflected effort set Charlton Athletic on their way to a 2-0 win at St Mary's on Sunday.

Jemma Purfield's free-kick delivery fizzed just past the top corner in injury time before Melissa Johnson secured three points for the away side minutes later.

The defeat sees Charlton leapfrog Southampton FC, who fall to fourth in the table just three points behind new league leaders Charlton.

Both sides came into the game level on 18 points from the opening nine games of the season and with a chance to go top.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale made a raft of changes from the team that beat Reading 1-0 in the League Cup on Wednesday evening as only Ella Morris, Rosie Parnell and Lucia Kendall kept their place.

Her side started well but lacked the quality needed in the final third as crosses didn’t find their intended targets inside the box.

The hosts went close to opening the scoring when Katie Wilkinson pinched the ball high up the field and shot from distance, hoping to catch out Sian Rogers, but she was denied by the post.

It was then Charlton’s turn to go close. Having been found inside the area by a looping pass, Green could only fire over the onrushing Kayla Rendell from close range.

The best chance of the first half came just before the break. Wilkinson slid the ball to Molly Pike whose low-driven effort was saved by Rogers’ outstretched foot.

If the first half was defined by a lack of quality in the final third, the second half began with a stroke of fortune to give the away side the lead.

Green’s powerful header went in off Rendell’s back having crashed down from the crossbar to open the scoring on 48 minutes.

The Welsh international was soon denied a second by some good recovery defending by Saints captain Rosie Parnell.

Green, who was the centre of everything Charlton did well after the break, would have grabbed a second had she timed her chipped shot better after pouncing on a loose ball.

With Charlton bossing the game, Spacey-Cale made a triple change, introducing Lloyd-Smith, Alice Griffiths and Rianna Dean.

Dean was almost invited to score moments after coming on but didn’t react quickly enough to a lapse in concentration by the Charlton goalkeeper.

Fellow substitute Lloyd-Smith fired just over from the edge before Purfield's cross flew just past the far post.

Charlton sealed the win four minutes into additional time when Johnson capitalised on Southampton's high line and remained cool to slot past Rendell. 

Saints: Rendell, Morris (Wynne, 81), Mott, Parnell, Peake, Purfield, Peplow (Griffiths, 63), Kendall, Pharoah (Kraft, 87), Pike (Lloyd-Smith, 63), Wilkinson (Dean, 63).

Unused subs: Howard, Rafferty, Thompson, Milne.

Charlton Athletic: Rogers, McKenna, Ross, Skeels, Humphrey, Addison, Ayisi (Godfrey, 69), Green (Johnson, 69) Bashford, O’Rourie (N’Dow, h-t), Roe.

Unused subs: Gray, McGowan, Muua

Attendance: 1,404