Exeter City Ladies put in an excellent performance at St James Park on Sunday, but missed out on a place in the Westward Development Devon Senior Cup final following a 3-1 defeat to Buckland Athletic Ladies.
The Grecians playing at St James Park for the first time in a number of years were roared on by a crowd of 606 as they took to the field to take on Buckland Athletic who play in the FA Women’s National League South West – the division above City.
The home side began nervously and were punished inside the opening couple of minutes when Sarah Stacey converted a penalty despite Grecians goalkeeper Rhiannon Dumper getting a hand to the shot.
However, City were level on 10 minutes when Sian Chapman won a free-kick 30 yards from goal and player-manager Abbie Britton curled a shot over the wall and into the far corner of the net.
That gave City belief and for the remainder of the first-half they looked like the higher league side as they cut the visitors open time and time again with neat passing moves.
The best chance for City to take the lead came when talented young striker Sophie Gillies beat the offside trap to race through on goal but, from an angle, her shot went inches wide of the left-hand post.
Then five minutes later Georgie Barbour Gresham sent a looping header goalwards from an Ella Mae Miller cross that Buckland keeper Abi Bond did brilliantly to tip over her crossbar.
Spurred on by their first-half performance, City began the second half well but fell behind when high ball into the box was spilled by Dumper for Stacey to profit and get her second of the match.
City kept pushing forward for a way back into the game though and were unfortunate when another Britton effort, on the half volley, flew just past the post. Substitute Jazz Hervin then rattled the woodwork with a free-kick before Manfy Sharpe lined-up an effort from distance only to see her shot saved by the impressive Bond.
As the game got stretched in the closing stages, it was Buckland who began to look more threatening and they duly put the game to bed in the final minute of normal time when former City player Jana Richards fired home at the back post after her initial shot had cannoned off the woodwork.
Exeter City: Rhiannon Dumper, Ella Mae Miller, Keslie Miller (Hannah Bennett), Emily Toogood, Manfy Sharpe, Abbie Britton, Georgie Barbour-Gresham, Zoe Watkins, Sian Chapman (Carmen Morrison, 79), Sophie Gillies, Kat Mundy (Jazz Hervin, 72).
Buckland Athletic: Abi Bond, Carla Staddon, Alex Sheppard, Jodie Chubb, Maria Warman, Leah Brooks, Laura Gough, Kirsty Caunter, Natalie Warman (Jana Richards, 66), Sara Smith, Sarah Stacey (Abigail Meyer, 78).