ELLA Morris claimed Saints were "punished" for a poor start to the game against Blackburn Rovers during their 2-1 defeat at Ewood Park on Sunday.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale's side went two goals behind after only 12 minutes through a Megan Hornby double which put the visitors firmly up against it.

Saints rallied after that and pulled a goal back when Molly Pike struck before half-time but they were unable to find a leveller - in a blow to their Championship promotion hopes.

Speaking to club media, Morris admitted there may have been a bit of "complacency" during the early stages but she hopes Saints can respond in the final three matches of the season.

She said: "In the first 10 minutes, we were not on it enough and they (Blackburn Rovers) scored two good goals. We tried to get back into the game, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

"There was maybe a bit of complacency in terms of our distances as a team. It’s on everybody though. We’ve all got to pick it up and move forward in the next game.

"I think we stepped up after that so it’s just about reflecting on that and seeing how we can improve on that. I think it just goes to show that in this league you get punished."

The result leaves Saints' promotion hopes hanging in the balance as they are now four points behind leaders Sunderland - while the gap can stretch to six if Crystal Palace win their game in hand.

Saints now have three matches remaining and Morris wants Southampton's focus to switch to taking care of business in those games to give themselves the best chance of going up.

"The final touch just didn’t seem to go in the back of the net. We need to take what we can move on, and have a reaction in the final three games," she continued.

"(Moving forward), can we react to that a little bit earlier? Promotion? If it’s still on, it’s still on, let’s go for it.

"We want to win every time so when we lose or draw, it hurts. We’ve just got to give it all we’ve got. We have an international break as well after next weekend so that will help reset us."

Since returning to the team in recent weeks following injury, Morris has played in a more advanced position with Megan Collett featuring at right-back.

The England under-23 international revealed she is happy to play wherever needed to do a job for the team.

She added: "I’m a versatile player so wherever Marieanne (Spacey-Cale) wants to put me, I’ll do as well as I can.

"It’s about utilising what I can of my skills and trying to match that to whichever position I’m playing on the day."