Exeter City Women progressed to the FA Cup Second round with a comfortable win at Helston Athletic on Sunday, the team’s eleventh successive victory in all competitions.
The home side began in competitive style, putting the City defence under pressure in the early stages, but the Grecians would create the first chance of the game. Phoebe Baker’s clipped pass found the run of Amber Pollock and her cut back was well blocked by the Blues defence with Tash Knapman ready to pounce. Beth Ireland surged into the penalty area to force the first big save of the contest, Emily Full down well to block the midfielder's effort on goal.
City were now settling into the contest and the first goal would come on thirteen minutes, Baker winning a midfield tussle before unleashing a low shot into the far corner beyond Full. One quickly became two, Baker’s corner nodded in by Ishbel Zuurmond from close range and the Grecians now had control.
Full was down well to block a Pollock effort, Baker splitting the Helston back line with a precise pass as she began to orchestrate proceedings in midfield. The Blues Goalkeeper was again at her best moments later, Zuurmond surging clear, chopping inside the last defender and striking a shot that Full tipped onto the crossbar.
Knapman came close to extending the lead, just unable to turn a whipped cross goalwards, but the experienced forward was not going to be denied a minute later. Steph Beck weighted a perfect pass behind the Helston backline and, as Full came out to block, the City forward took the ball past her and tapped into the empty net.
Zuurmond was hauled down when through on goal, just a yellow card as the referee went into game management mode, and with that the home side came close to pulling one back before the break. The lively Beth Prouse latching on to a through ball and driving just wide, Manfy Sharpe then denying the Blues once more as she cleared a low effort off the City goal line.
With Paul Parfitt’s side enjoying their best spell, the Grecians countered with a knockout blow. Zuurmond fed Ireland with a precise pass in the penalty area and her shot across goal was deflected into the net for a fourth on the half time whistle.
The Grecians would remain relentless as the second half began, Zuurmond’s cross headed against the crossbar from Knapman and Sharpe was in place to strike home a fifth with forty-eight minutes on the clock.
Pollock forced another good save from Full with her latest surge into the penalty area, the Blues Goalkeeper again denying City as she blocked Zuurmond’s shot a minute later.
With City five up, the arrival of leading scorers Sarah Stacey and Jenna Markham onto the pitch would not have been a welcome sight for the home defence. Stacey was on the scoresheet within a minute as she latched onto an Ireland pass and skipped past two challenges before drilling her shot low past Full.
Ireland, now in a wing back role, cut inside to slot in her second and the team’s seventh, Markham then latching on to a long Sharpe pass to race clear and make it eight.
Stacey and Zuurmond came close to adding to the total, Ireland cutting inside to force a strong handed low save as she went in search of a hat trick.
A comfortable win for City, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley choosing to make five changes and the impressive display in tricky conditions again underlined the quality in the Grecians squad this season. All eyes will be on the second round draw on Monday afternoon with the hope of another good cup draw and a chance to progress to the fourth round when the Women’s Super League clubs come into the draw.