Exeter City Women will continue their pre-season preparations this Sunday as they return to the Exwick Sports Hub to face third tier Cheltenham Town Ladies.
Lineup will be displayed here shortly before the game
Exeter City Women continued their pre-season preparations with a competitive draw against Southern Premier side Cheltenham Town, as the two sides fought out a goalless draw at the Exwick Sports Hub.
In a combative opening, City would create the first clear chance of the game, Jenna Markham racing away from the Town defence only to be denied by the onrushing Robins’ Goalkeeper Aimee Watson. Sarah Stacey headed over from a corner as City probed away on the visitors' left side, Steph Beck next to benefit from the willingness of Zoe Watkins as she volleyed over the crossbar in a strong Grecians start.
As the referee called for drinks on a warm afternoon, the stoppage in play settled the visitors and they began to find space in wide areas to hurt City. A quick counter created a first chance on goal, but the effort lacked the power to trouble Abbi Bond as she smothered the ball low to her left.
Watkins had the ball in the net, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag, with Beth Ireland next to drive into the Town penalty area before scooping her effort over the crossbar. Jess Sandland completed a strong first half at full back with a couple of penetrative runs behind the visitor's backline, but both her low crosses failed to find a teammate as City lacked the precision in the final third to gain an advantage.
Cheltenham’s best chance of the half came just before the break. Clever wide play out maneuvered the City defence, with only a strong challenge inside the Grecians six-yard box stopping a clear shot on goal for the Town forward.
Both teams went into the break with positives in their build up play but lacking a decisive pass to break the deadlock.
All change for City at half time as nine substitutions included home debuts for Zoe Cunningham, Amber Pollock and Tash Knapman, whilst also seeing the welcome return of Becky Dandridge.
Pollock and Dandridge broke in behind the Town defence minutes into the half, a fantastic challenge on Dandridge denying a clear strike on goal as City started brightly. Ishbel Zuurmond was beginning to skip past challenges in her distinctive way, with Cunningham and Dandridge keeping City’s play slick and forward thinking.
However, for all the Grecians good play, it was Town who would come closest to an opening goal. Stealing the ball from the City midfield in a deep area, a low driven shot hit the post and bounced away to safety. It would be the catalyst for an uncharacteristically sloppy spell for City, unable to keep the ball for passages of play and gifting Town their best spell of the game with some carless passing.
Another robbed pass saw a shot smash the crossbar as City lived dangerously, the diminutive Dandridge still providing a threat on the counter as she squared for Zuurmond to strike just wide of the Town upright. Dandridge chased a loose ball to cross for another opportunity at goal, but the height and strength of the Cheltenham backline was comfortable in dealing with any cross the Grecians could deliver.
A positive afternoon for Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side, with minutes for the entire squad and strong contributions from everyone. With two tough tests already negotiated, the potential of this team has already been evident in the opening two games. With four weeks to go until the season begins, how such a talented squad develops and settles will offer plenty of intrigue for supporters as pre-season continues.