SOUTHAMPTON AC will be rubbing shoulders with the UK Women’s Athletics League elite next season.

The team travelled to the final match at the Leigh Sports Stadium knowing victory at home in the opening fixture and a third place at Bedford had put them within touching distance of promotion to the Premier Division.

And despite losing three athletes in the run-up to the fixture, there was just no stopping the red and white stripes as they finished third on the day and runners-up overall.

“The whole team pulled together to achieve this tremendous success to the UKWAL Premier Division,” smiled jubilant team boss Tim Hall.

“I am extremely proud of all the athletes who competed this season and honoured to be their team manager.

“The promotion was accomplished with a fantastic team spirit and the support and commitment by the athletes to the team.

“Next season will hold higher quality competition and I am sure all the athletes will be up to the challenge.”

The final match had a familiar feel with Southampton trailing for two-thirds of it before great results in a delayed field programme put them back on course.

The throws and jumps were worth a fantastic 50 points for the south coast club – and no one worked harder than Sophie Merritt.

Having matched Phoebe Dowson’s A-string discus win with B-string success, Merritt won both the A shot and B javelin despite having to jog from one end of the field to the other because both events were running at the same time.

Sarah Ellis topped the A javelin and Ellie Hodgson came fourth in the B shot.

The jumpers followed suit with Vicky Mould placed third in the A long and triple jump, Hollie Garrathy finishing B triple jump runner-up, and Emma Cowell (A 3rd) and Jordan Campbell (B 2nd) scoring well in high jump. Laura Edwards achieved second in the A pole vault.

The middle distance crew of Emily Jenkinson (4th A 800m), Georgina Russell (4th B 800m), Bryher Bowness (5th A 3000m) and Sarah Kingston (4th B 3000m) picked up crucial points and there was a personal best for Bryher Bowness on her 3000m debut.

Sprinters Izzy Bryant, Sophie-Anne Haigh and Mandy Gault kept the points flowing in the 100m/200m and then joined Ellie Hodgson in winning the 4x100m relay, clocking a season's best 48.3. Gault went on to post a brilliant A 400m victory, backed by fourth-placed Amy Jaramazovic in the B race.

Match result: Trafford 225, Cardiff 218.5, Southampton 202, Notts 187, Bristol & West 181, Enfield & Haringey 141, Harrow 113, Bedford & County 111.5.

Final Division One standings: Trafford 22, Southampton 20, Cardiff 19, Notts 17, Enfield & Haringey 9, Harrow 9, Bristol & West 6, Bedford & County 6.