Exeter City Women continued their impressive form with a win at Portishead Town on Sunday afternoon, making it three successive National League victories, and moving the team up to second in the league table.
City started brightly with Zoe Watkins influencing play in midfield and her link with the forward running of Mollie Taylor would offer a first chance to Connie Pengelly, the in form forward shooting just wide of the target on this occasion. The wing back play of Emily Toogood and Taylor was starting to cause the home side mounting problems, Toogood squared the ball for Jess Sandland and, after the ball had rebounded around in the penalty area, Zoe Watkins reacted quickest to put City in front.
Watkins and Taylor again linked well moments later, Taylor's shot was blocked, before Watkins' shot on goal suffered the same fate. Charley Prouse, looking more assured with every City performance, would then weight a pass in behind the Portishead defence for Taylor to again stride forward. Her cross would just evade the advancing City attack, but the visitors were now taking full control of the game.
With a mixture of patience and high tempo play, the Grecians would put together a passage of twenty or more passes to create the next chance, Mollie Taylor again the player with the final effort on goal from distance. A Taylor cross, Watkins step over, and Pengelly shot, the latest effort to go close to that second goal that City's play was deserving of.
When the second did come, it was a stunning strike. City hustled the ball away from the Portishead midfield and Phoebe Baker hit a shot that arrowed into the top corner. It left Town keeper Anderson with little chance.
More neat attacking play from Sandland and Preston created the next chance for Connie Pengelly, Anderson's initial save was cut back into the danger area and the City Number Nine thumped the crossbar with her effort. As the half time whistle arrived it signalled the end of, arguably, the most comprehensive forty five minutes of football the Grecians have played this season.
The second half, started in driving rain, saw City continue to press for goals. Pengelly went close on a couple of occasions, with Mollie Taylor just failing to connect to a cross curled in from a corner. When the third goal arrived, it would epitomise the level of performance seen from Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley's side throughout the afternoon. Phoebe Baker worked tirelessly to close down the Portishead defence, her interception leaving a clear shooting opportunity, and one she was not going to miss.
A series of corners were defended well by the City backline, Jaydee Seaman and Manfy Sharpe with some crucial interceptions, before another golden opportunity to further extend the lead was manufactured. Steph Beck, returning to the side following an injury, perfectly controlled Emily Toogood's cross before her effort on goal was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Anderson.
For all the City dominance, Portishead found a way back into the game with their own spirited second half performance. A misplaced pass out of defence found Lulu Watts and her shot was well placed into the top corner with over ten minutes still to play, it was the first goal City had conceded in nearly 300 minutes of football.
Not deterred, the response was quick. Phoebe Baker's cut back just evaded the Grecians' forward line, before a swift counter attack sealed the three points. Substitute forwards Sarah Stacey and Esme Kilburn-Thompson linked on the half way line, as Kilburn-Thompson then drove forward, her pass found Stacey, who slotted home from close range.
Stacey's volley was well held by Anderson as City continued to push forward for more. A late Portishead goal from Rosie Hill, as City reshuffled following an injury and subsequent reduction to ten players, was the only downside to a fantastic team performance.
A break from League action now follows as Devon County Cup and FA Cup ties taking priority over the coming weeks, but with the Grecians' mixture of youth and experience looking more cohesive with every performance, Exeter City are certainly a team that all the other contenders will be paying serious attention to.