Exeter City are through to the Devon County Cup Final after a thrilling 3-2 Victory at Erme Valley, Ivybridge, against Marine Academy Plymouth.
The start to the game encapsulated all you would expect from such an important Cup tie, both teams quick to the ball and competing hard in every challenge. With central midfield congested, it was a direct pass from Mollie Taylor that offered the first chance of the game, Connie Pengelly finding space in the box and placing her shot just wide. With the pace of Beth Everson offering MAP a real threat on the counter, City were having to be cautious in the numbers they committed forward.
With Beck, Watkins and Kaptein starting to establish control of midfield, that control would lead to the opening goal. Esme Kilburn-Thompson drifted in from her wide position and found Connie Pengelly, the City forward has been in clinical form since the return to Football last month, and she lifted the ball over Goalkeeper Aimie Carpenter for the lead.
Whilst City were beginning to find their tempo, it was Everson’s boundless running that would again cause a problem. The MAP wide player was brought down on the edge of the City box, giving the chance to put the ball into the penalty area. The free kick would amount to little, but the threat for the afternoon had been well established.
The Grecians continued to probe away with their patient build up, Kilburn-Thompson hit a shot that was well blocked, before Anthea Kaptein gained control of the loose ball and fed Meg Robinson who shot over from a tight angle. The teams left the field at Half Time with the game nicely poised.
Aaron Wakley’s side started the second half with a real purpose. Taylor again found Pengelly, whose header was well saved, before the former saw her header from the resulting corner go narrowly wide. Pengelly would again cause an aerial threat shortly after, her header just wide, but City’s press was in full force and Anthea Kaptein was now controlling midfield.
After winning the free kick wide on the Grecian’s left, Mollie Taylor would send in an enticing cross and this time Kaptein rose highest to double the lead. It was a deserved reward for a fast start to the second period.
Tackles were now flying in and some interesting officiating was not helping calm tempers, this was a game that both sides desperately wanted to win. Phoebe Baker’s arrival onto the pitch saw a customary tenacious tackle in midfield lead to a break, Baker’s pass to Mia Preston saw her cross blocked before Zoe Watkins’ volleyed over the loose ball.
With City in control, Emily Toogood was now gaining more space to move into. Her driving forward run led to a pass that found Pengelly in the penalty area, the forward beat the defender, before drilling the ball home at the near post to give City a clear advantage going into the final stages of this hotly contested Cup Tie.
Everson would again offer a threat as her break on City’s left led to the ball finding it’s way to Lucie Cooper, a fierce shot from distance was out of the reach of Megan Lightfoot and MAP had a way back into the game. One would quickly become two, a free kick on the edge of the City penalty area was struck by Samantha Drewery into the bottom corner. From a comfortable position, it was now set to be a nervy finish.
Manfy Sharpe and Jaydee Seaman calmly held firm in defence as the pressure mounted and, as the final whistle blew, Exeter City had made it to their second successive Devon County Cup Final. Two late goals were reward for a Marine Academy side who had battled courageously all afternoon, but no doubt City will be a little disappointed to let a game they had control in become nervy towards its conclusion.
The Final will be played on May 30 and the Old Enemy from down the A38 await, victory over Plymouth Argyle to lift the Devon County Cup would be the perfect end to what has been a long, hard season for this talented, dedicated squad.