Exeter City Women’s pre season ended with defeat on Sunday, but against a high calibre of opposition in Swansea City, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance.
The first big moment of the game arrived after five minutes, Stacey John-Davis ran onto a through ball and headed towards goal, her shot was blocked by Mollie Taylor, but that pattern of play was to set a precedent for the first half.
John-Davis was soon on the run again, receiving the ball and rounding Abbi Bond in the City goal, Phoebe Baker was quickest to react for City as she denied the goalscoring opportunity with an excellent block. Swansea’s fast start was not to go unrewarded though, a low cross into the near post was slid in by Katy Hosford moments later for the opening goal.
John-Davis was in the action once more, a cross from the Swans left saw a misdirected header from City and the forward’s effort was drilled wide.
After the initial threat from the visitors had been weathered, City started to settle into the game. Phoebe Baker was beginning to show her dominance in midfield and the City defence were working tirelessly to organise against the threat from the visitors in wide areas, Charley Prouse particularly excelling in the Grecians’ backline.
Abbi Bond, who has barely had a save to make in pre season to date, was down quickly to deny a chance as the half drew to a close, whilst John-Davis continued to show her threat with a darting run through the City backline which ended with a shot over the bar.
The Grecians started the second half with a good tempo, Baker and Beck were gaining more possession in midfield and the latter struck a shot just over the bar as City tried to gain a way back into the game.
With the home side starting to gain momentum, the visitors struck a decisive blow. City were caught trying to play in defensive areas and a misplaced pass resulted in a three on one situation for the Swansea attack, Ian Owen’s side were not going to waste such an opportunity and Chloe Chivers made it two.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s team kept working and nearly found an instance response, neat interchange from Hope Suominen and Natalie Warman offered Sarah Stacey a shooting chance, her shot was well saved by the Swansea keeper at her near post.
The result would be put beyond doubt moments later, a Swansea corner was only half cleared and a shot from Chivers was drilled home at the near post.
A low strike from Pengelly was as close as City would come to pulling a goal back, whilst Abbi Bond made an excellent tip over the crossbar to deny Williams a fourth, as a string of substitutions for both sides saw the game finish without too much incident.
For City this was the type of tough fixture that will offer a chance to further learn and develop as a team, with some notable performances against a very good Swansea City side who go from Devon into a Women’s Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow. Without Manfy Sharpe, Meg Robinson, Zoe Watkins, Esme Kilburn-Thompson and Mia Preston, a full strength City may have run the Welsh Champions a bit closer, but this was a fully committed performance from which there were many positives.
The team will now spend the next fortnight preparing for the opening of the National League Season, with a positive pre season behind them and the new signings all settling in well, the hope will be for a winning start against Poole Town on August 15th.
TEAM: Bond (Orchard,) Grigg (Warman,) Taylor (Saunders,) Seaman, Prouse (Suominen,) Toogood, Baker, Beck (Barriball,) Sandland, Stacey, Pengelly (Burton)