After a three week break, Exeter City Women returned to action with an emphatic victory over Keynsham Town, to book their place in Round Two of the National League Cup Plate competition.
City started brightly, Sarah Stacey and Connie Pengelly interchanging passes on the edge of the penalty area, before Stacey’s low shot was well saved by Charlotte Haynes in the visitor’s goal. Jess Sandland, starting the game in defence, played a lofted pass for Mollie Taylor to force the next opportunity, her cross just evading Stacey at the near post.
Returning to the starting line-up, Stacey was causing the Keynsham defence all manner of problems, her well timed run again offering a chance, this time the shot over the bar. However, the City Number Ten would not be denied much longer, Phoebe Baker pounced on a loose ball and, after interchanging passes with Pengelly, found Stacey in the penalty area. After holding off the defender, Stacey shot on the turn, slotting the ball into the far corner to give City a deserved advantage.
Baker was then close to extending the lead, Connie Pengelly again the architect as she advanced towards goal and weighted the pass into the midfielder’s path, unfortunately the shot was just wide. Chances were arriving steadily and, after Mollie Taylor had forced another corner, City were to double their advantage. Emily Toogood’s looping header struck the crossbar and Sarah Stacey was in the right spot to tap the ball over the line from close range.
The home side were now dominant, Manfy Sharpe’s volley from a corner went close, before another forceful run from Taylor just evaded Pengelly at the near post for what was a certain third. Zoe Watkins was forced off through injury shortly before half time, Steph Beck gaining more minutes as she returns from a lengthy spell out through injury. The final action of the half would again focus around Sarah Stacey, the beneficiary of more good Pengelly link play, her shot was smothered by Haynes in the Town goal.
The second half began in a scrappy fashion, the visitors had certainly upped their work rate and City were finding a heavy, bumpy pitch difficult to play their usual slick passing football on. Sarah Stacey was the recipient of the first big chance of the half, muscling between defenders to create the shooting chance, but her effort was narrowly wide.
For all of City’s dominance, a two goal lead offered danger and a shot from distance that dipped over Abbi Bond’s crossbar signalled a warning. Not deterred, City would create their own big opportunity moments later. Emily Toogood found space on the home side’s left and her cut back saw a shot from Connie Pengelly narrowly miss the target, the home side were now pressing to seal the tie.
With seventy-five minutes on the clock, that sealing moment would arrive. Mollie Taylor again causing problems with her aggressive running and the resulting drilled cross was slid home by Sarah Stacey for a deserved hat trick. Aaron Wakley chose to make several substitutions as the game reached it’s conclusion, Meg Robinson a lively addition, as she twice went close to extending the lead with shots from distance in the closing minutes.
A comprehensive City performance from front to back, and another sign of the potential of this squad. Whilst Keynsham Town sit in a division higher than City, it was the Grecians who were dominate throughout and restricted their opponents to few chances whilst creating plenty for themselves. Next up is FA Cup action as the team face Cardiff City at Speeds Meadow on Sunday, more higher level opposition, but that is clearly not a billing that worries this squad as they will seek to progress in another significant Cup competition.
CITY: Bond, Toogood, Sharpe, Seaman, Sandland (Warman,) Taylor, Watkins (Beck,) Kaptein, Baker (Kilburn-Thompson,) Pengelly (Robinson,) Stacey (Preston)