After the disappointment of Sunday's first defeat of the season to Cheltenham Town, Exeter City Women will be looking for the bounce back factor, as they travel along the south coast to face Southampton Women this weekend.
The Hampshire side, led by Manager Aaron Smith, have boosted their squad this summer with the arrivals of Britt Jeal, Rachel Okoro and Sam Burt. Midfielder Jeal arrives from National Premier Club Oxford United, Okoro from National League rivals Maidenhead United and Defender Burt from cross City rivals Southampton FC. All three will add additional quality to Smith's options for the season and, with Burt already picking up a player of the match award, appear to be making a difference in the early stages of the new campaign.
Southampton Women have started the season well. An opening day victory at Cheltenham Town was followed by a goaless home draw to Maidenhead United. A rare heavy defeat at AFC Bournemouth was soon recovered from, as Smith's team picked up all three points from the trip to Swindon Town last weekend. Sian Wylie has made an impressive start, hitting a brace in the win at Cheltenham, as well as the winning goal in the victory over Swindon. Young defender Gracie White has also caught the eye with her performances, winning two player of the match awards, as the England Colleges' player is beginning to flourish at National League level.
The last occasion the teams met saw a hard fought encounter at the Sports Hub, Exwick, in October of last year. Laura Vokes put the visitors ahead before a late strike from, now City Manager, Abbie Britton, gave City a well earned point. The teams have met on three occasions in the National League, with City yet to beat the Hampshire side, highlighting the task that the team face this weekend.
The early signs within the National League South West division are that this will be a closely fought season with very little between many of the top sides. It appears there will be many highly competitive fixtures and the teams who are most successful in those games of fine margin will be in the best position to fight for promotion. For City, it will be about showing they can be one of those sides this season. A win on Sunday will certainly go a long way to increasing the belief that they can compete at the very top this year.
- Arlebury Park, Alresford Town FC
- Sunday, September 5 | 2pm
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