Exeter City Women will play at St James Park for the first time since 2019 this Sunday, as Plymouth Argyle are the visitors for what looks set to be an exciting clash showcasing Women's Football in the South West.
Playing in Tier 3 of the Women's Football pyramid, the opposition could not be much tougher as City look to defend their Devon County Cup in this First Round Tie.
The Grecians were 2-1 Winners at Coach Road back in May, an Esme Kilburn-Thompson double giving City a deserved Cup win. However, it would be fair to say that the Greens were undergoing a transitional period during the last twelve months, and considerable recent recruitment means Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley's side face a different challenge on Sunday.
It was certainly a summer of change at Argyle, with several players returning to the team after a year of absence. Zoey Cunningham and Tash Knapman both signed from Buckland Athletic, whilst the names of Rebecca Dandridge, Gabi Alphous and Jemma Rose will be equally familiar to Argyle supporters from their previous stints with the Club. Rose has played for Arsenal and the England National Team in her career, whereas Knapman was an integral figure when City last won promotion to the National League in the early 2010's. Olivia Ramsey and Emily Eaton were both added from Marine Academy, as Ryan Perks has looked to freshen the squad after a year of difficulty.
Plymouth also have their own talented youngsters to call upon. Most notably, Welsh International Goalkeeper Poppy Soper and, goalscorer from the Devon County Cup Final, Beth Ireland.
Plymouth have had a difficult start in the early weeks of the new campaign, defeat on the opening day at Portsmouth was followed by defeat at home to Southampton. An excellent away victory at Keynsham followed, Gabi Alphous at the double, as the Greens romped to a 5-1 victory. However, the delight was short lived as Oxford United headed back north with all three points, as they won comfortably by five goals to nil at the Manadon Sports Hub the following week. League defeats to Gillingham and Bridgewater United both came with late goals, the Gills winning 3-1 after Zoe Cunningham had initially equalised, whilst United won 3-0 in the Greens last outing. As the higher league opposition, and with strong recruitment, the pressure will all be on the visitors at the weekend, particularly after a disappointing run in the League. Perks' side will be looking at Cup competitions as a way of regaining some confidence and a winning feeling to take into the remainder of their campaign.
Notably, the two sides have met recently. In the qualifying round for the National League Cup, Plymouth won 2-0 at Speeds Meadow in mid September. Gabi Alphous and Jemma Rose were the goalscorers that day, with City having enough of the game to suggest that they can make this a competitive contest on Sunday and draw inspiration from what looks set to be a big home crowd.
Tickets and matchday hospitality are now on sale for the clash at: newtickets.ecfc.co.uk
Over 1000+ ticket have been sold so far, with Exeter City Women's previous record attendance of 680 set to be SMASHED.
The IP Office Main Stand will be open for the match with reserved seating. Tickets can also be purchased in the club shop/reception and on matchday via the Ticket Booth in Red Square.
Admission prices are as follows:
- Adults: £5
- Under-18s: £3
Click here to buy tickets
Speaking about playing at St James Park, Exeter City Women's captain Manfy Sharpe said: "It's going to be such a good experience for the whole team. Hopefully we will get a good crowd and have them cheering us on and getting behind us!"
City's Previous Devon County Cup Match
Exeter City Women 2 Plymouth Argyle Women 1 | Devon County Cup Final | 30/05/21
The Grecians Women lifted the Devon County Cup for the first time in six years with a great victory at Coach Road, Newton Abbot.