SAINTS Women manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale hailed her side's "character" after they fought back from a goal down to beat promotion rivals Birmingham 2-1 on Sunday.

A stunning strike from Molly Pike levelled things for Southampton FC before Katie Wilkinson bundled the ball in midway through the second half.

The win sees Saints third in the Championship, one point off leaders Sunderland, who they face after the international break.

Saints are tied on 30 points with Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace, who have both played one game less.

Speaking to Southampton's media team after an important win, Spacey-Cale said: "Today was all about character. Credit to Birmingham for the way they move the ball.

"We couldn't compete with them in the first half - scoring just before half-time gave us the impetus to come into the dressing room, regroup and make sure we were ready for the second half. 

"The biggest thing is the character the girls showed to come from 1-0 down against a team that is physically strong.

"Our aggression was much better in the second half. The ethic was 'If I can't get there, my teammate will get there.'"

 Pike got Southampton back into the game at St Andrew's on the stroke of half-time when she curled a delightful shot into the net from the edge of the box.

"It was a quality goal from Molly which came from us winning the ball back," Spacey-Cale added.

"That ethic to win the ball back is important to give players like Molly and Wilko (Katie Wilkinson) chances to put the ball into the back of the net.

"All of the staff were in the dressing room. It's important that everyone feels like they have a voice.

"There were clear messages of what we have to do to be better - they went out there and did it. We said before the game that we have to outwork them, outfight them, and be aggressive.

"This was a big game for both teams, but our next game is the next big game. We have a few weeks off now with the international break - and then we are off to Sunderland.

"We have to be ready for every game now. We can only control what we can control. The teams around us will do the same thing. We just need to focus on what we need to do and how hard we work.

"We have to have that steely determination, but also the joy of playing. We have to get that balance right. There's six games to go and everyone is in with a shout at the top of the table."