Exeter City Women responded to last week’s defeat at Swindon in the best possible way, a clinical first half performance gaining all three points from the visit to Chesham United on Sunday afternoon.
Maidenhead United were the opponents on the Grecians previous long journey east, that afternoon saw a fast start, with City leading by two goals after only seven minutes, and it was to be a similar tale on Sunday. Mollie Taylor drove forward into midfield from her wing back role, before passing wide to Emily Toogood on the Grecians left. Taylor continued her forward run, nodding Toogood’s return ball past the onrushing United ‘keeper Emma Delves, before tapping into the unoccupied net. It was just the start City Manager’s Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley would have wished for.
Chesham responded immediately, Abbi Bond clawing away a header from a corner, but City continued to create chances with regularity. Sarah Stacey’s shot was saved by Delves and, when the ball was recycled into the Chesham penalty area by Zoe Watkins, Phoebe Baker’s effort was narrowly wide. However, City would not have to wait much longer for a second goal. Taylor played an exquisite ball through to Watkins and she drilled past Delves to put City in command.
Steph Beck came close to adding a third, her effort over the crossbar from close range, but it would be the threat of Stacey that gave the Grecians an added boost before half time. Chesham were caught in defence and, when a back pass was short of Delves, Stacey reacted quickest to lift the ball into the net with deft finish. The perfect first forty five for City.
Stacey came ever so close to sealing the game within seconds of the restart, striking a fierce effort from distance, only to see the ball bounce down off the underside of the crossbar. Chesham had won their last five National League fixtures and were not going to go down without a fight, a shot wide after a neat through ball showed their intent, before a lifeline came with a fine strike from distance. A coming together on the edge of the City penalty area resulted in a free kick, the home side taking full advantage with a curling effort into the corner of the net giving Bond little chance.
Stacey came close to restoring the City two goal advantage, her header over the crossbar from a Connie Pengelly cross, but the Grecians saw out the game without the home side creating any further notable chances.
After the disappointment of last week, this was the perfect response. With players returning, the team were far more settled in possession and back to their creative best. The Grecians cannot afford to drop any more points if they wish to catch Cheltenham Town, a fixture against the Gloucestershire side looming this coming weekend, but regardless of that chase, it is results like Sunday that highlight just how far the team have come this season and the potential they have to go much further in the future.