Exeter City Women made it three successive League wins for the first time this season, as they took all three points on Sunday with a comprehensive victory at Maidenhead United.
City had been frustrated by a resilient United defence in the reverse fixture back in January and were keen to begin with a fast tempo, it was a mindset that brought immediate success. Connie Pengelly powered her way past the full back before sending in a low cross towards Sarah Stacey, Maidenhead failed to clear the cross, and, as it dropped to Anthea Kaptein, she drilled the ball into the bottom corner.
The Grecians have a habit of capitalising in games once they have scored once, and that one goal quickly became two. Kaptein was first to the goalkeepers clearance and her forward pass bounced to Phoebe Baker and her brilliantly improvised header put Pengelly in on goal. The teenage forward’s clinical nature is hugely impressive and, on the half volley, she found the corner of the net.
After such a fast start, the stunned home side began to gain more territory in the City half, but Abbi Bond remained largely untroubled, tipping over a long distance free kick the only moment of danger. However, as was the case in the previous game against Portishead, Bond would make a significant contribution before half time. Maidenhead turned the ball into the City backline to create a one on one opportunity and the City keeper did brilliantly to stay on her feet and palm the effort away, Charley Prouse then making a sliding goal line clearance as City survived the scare. A big moment in the game, as the Grecians headed in at half time still two goals in front.
Keen to kill off the home side’s fightback, City began the second half seeking a clinching third goal. Pengelly’s corner fell to Emily Toogood, making her 100th appearance in Red and White, and her goal bound shot was unfortunate to hit Mollie Taylor. Shots from Stacey and Zoe Watkins failed to trouble United keeper Gemma Harvey, but the pressure was about to tell. Pengelly turned her defender before sending a perfectly weighted through ball for Stacey, the powerful City forward raced towards goal and poked the ball past the onrushing Harvey for three. Not only have Stacey and Pengelly scored a lot of goals for the Grecians this season, but their link up play is a joy to watch.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley made a string of substitutions as the game came to a close, the most notable being a debut for development team player Lilly Burton, her excellent season for Jamie McInnes’ side giving her a deserved opportunity.
A near perfect afternoon for City, cheered on by a large London Grecians following, with the only frustration coming with a Jaydee Seaman Red Card twenty minutes before full time. It is unusual to see a booking for a tackle in which the player has not made any contact with the opposition player, it looked a harsh free kick, an even harsher booking.
Three successive league wins, two successive clean sheets, it was just the week that Britton and Wakley would have wanted from their team. A double header against Chesham United now awaits City, and with the Buckinghamshire side in third position, it will have a considerable say on where the Grecians will finish. With Cheltenham Town taking a big step to a title with a win over AFC Bournemouth on Sunday, these are perhaps going to be two games that City must win if they are to have any chance of catching Town.