City Ladies battle to success in SolentEXETER CITY LADIES came away with a 3-2 win at Southampton Saints this past weekend.
The Grecians travelled on the back of a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Norwich City last Sunday, not the best of preparations for a fixture which has been a bogey game for City of late as they lost 2-1 on each of the previous two visits.
Like a week previously, again they travelled with only eleven players, with influential midfielder Kirsty Caunter missing this week and centre-back Soph Russell also unable to turn out. The players were lifted by the return of Dani Barr in the centre of the park, however, as she missed last week’s game with a thigh injury. Soph Simpson returned to the starting line up and did exceptionally well despite the fact she is recently off a serious shin injury. Returning former Grecian Emma Redwood started at right-back with Corinne Potts moving into central defence.
Southampton were on top for much of the first half, and had several chances to take the lead, but poor finishing let them down. A mix-up in the City defence allowed a Southampton striker to sneak in and find the opener, but despite Southampton passing well in the middle of the park, soon after their opener their play was broken down by Soph Currie and Barr, a ball down the left channel for striker Helen Kukor set her free in the box. She went down, and a penalty was given, before Vic Barter stepped up to slot the ball calmly in the bottom-left corner.
It wasn’t level for long though. A ball over the top by a Saints midfielder was met by their number 9. She took it round the City defence but despite looking to have made her angle too narrow, the resulting shot was awkward for keeper Max Coupe and it bounced into the back of the net.
About ten minutes before half-time, City equalised again. Another great ball , this time down the right-hand channel, left Kukor free to run at goal. She forced a corner, before Dani Barr floated the ball perfectly into the area and it was met on the volley by Corinne Potts. Two-each at half-time.
The second half saw the ball stay mostly in midfield. Soph Simpson courageously came back on after going off after twenty minutes in the first half, and would play alongside Kukor up front with Vic Barter dropping back into midfield. Southampton dominated the game in midfield and only some poor finishing from their strikers kept the game level.
Deep into injury-time at the end of the second half, Barr lofted a great ball over the heads of the Saints’ defenders to Kukor. She showed great composure in front of goal and slotted the ball to the goalkeeper's right hand side for a dramatic winner.
City manager Clem Bennellick was over the moon with the result, as he said: "I'm so proud of the girls today. We showed that extra bit of fight that we needed. It all came down to the work-rate of the players, with a special mention going to our two central midfielders, Sophie Currie and Dani Barr, who worked tirelessly throughout.
"We knew we would have to put in a typical away performance, as the Silverlake Arena is a hard place to get anything from. We kept bodies behind the ball and restricted Southampton to long shots in the second half. We dug deep and played to our strengths, which ultimately won us the game."