Exeter City Women were at their brilliant best last night as they overcame Bideford by a massive scoreline.
With goals for Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley's young stars, as well as firsts for several of the new signings, this was a near perfect evening at Speeds Meadow as the countdown to the new season gathers pace.
The game started with Bideford working hard to press the Grecians high up the pitch, however with the pace of Grigg and Robinson, once the ball was worked beyond that press the chances soon came. It was from a Robinson cross that the first goal nearly arrived, Steph Beck made a run from deep and was only denied by a last ditch challenge from the covering defender. Robinson, with a mixture of skill and speed, was causing the Bideford right side continuous problems, choosing to come inside instead of outside of her marker, her resulting shot hit the top of the crossbar as City got ever closer.
With pressure mounting, the goal would come from a corner. Connie Pengelly, who had already caused problems with her delivery from set pieces, swung the ball in and Sarah Stacey powered home her first goal in red and white following her signing earlier this week.
One quickly became two. Steph Beck's weighted pass found Robinson, who was quickly beyond the defender's challenge, her cross was met by the well timed arrival of Katie Grigg who slotted home her first goal for City. A Grigg cross then resulted in a foul on Pengelly and Zoe Watkins stepped up to make it three.
Watkins was now dominate in midfield, winning back possession and distributing it with equal quality. A turn past one defender, a roulette beyond another and a shot to the bottom corner was testament to how much she was enjoying her evening. The save from the Robins keeper would deny her, but Sarah Stacey was in the right place to tap home her second and City's fourth.
With chances and goals at a plenty, it was only going to be a matter of time before Connie Pengelly got involved. A perfectly weighted cross from Emily Toogood found the City forward and, on the volley, she was not going to miss the chance to make it five. Now amongst the scorers, you could not keep her out of the game, good hold up play from Stacey found Pengelly in the penalty area and she thumped home a sixth off the underside of the crossbar.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley choose to rotate a big matchday squad at half time, but the high level of performance continued. Jess Sandland's defence splitting pass found Warman and her cross was smashed home from close range by Pengelly for the hat-trick.
Meg Robinson, who had created so many chances for the team, was then rewarded with a goal of her own. Finding space on the City right on this occasion, she sent a cross in towards the back post that would elude everyone and find the net with some help from the upright. Robinson nearly had a second moments later, a good low save from the Bideford keeper denied her, but Stacey was in the right place to help herself to a hat-trick.
For all of City's slick play, when Pengelly was stood over a set piece you always felt a goal might be coming. Her cross from a free kick on the City left was glanced home by Natalie Warman for another first goal for a summer signing. More Pengelly set pieces, more chances, this time Mia Preston profited as she hit number eleven. Manfy Sharpe nearly headed home from a City corner before Jess Sandland diverted in number twelve from another Pengelly cross.
Bideford were close to a consolation when Hana Bennett raced clear, she rounded Kyanna Orchard before Sharpe brilliantly denied the chance on the line.
On an evening of good finishing, the best was saved until last. Patient City football saw the ball move around the Bideford defence, before Watkins found Pengelly and her shot on the turn flew into the top corner.
In front of a good crowd, this was a confidence building evening for forwards and new additions as City were dominant throughout. Next up for the team is the visit of Liskeard on Sunday at the Exwick Hub.