Exeter City Women recorded back to back victories at Larkhall Athletic on Wednesday evening, a win that sees the Grecians move up to third in the National League South West table.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley named an unchanged side, as City looked to replicate the fast start that has been the constant of so many of their recent strong performances on the road. Zoe Watkins' broke from midfield and played Connie Pengelly in on goal, her effort blocked by the advancing Larkhall 'keeper Abbi Footner, as the Grecians began to find their rhythm after a scrappy opening. Watkins and Pengelly linked again moments later, the ball struck just wide by Pengelly as she wrestled to gain control on a difficult surface.
Mollie Taylor, Phoebe Baker and Pengelly then all had efforts from distance, as it became apparent that it was going to be a game of individual battles as oppose to free flowing football. For all of City's control, Larkhall came close to opening the scoring shortly before half time. A ball over the top of the Grecian's defence was read by the forward and her shot across goal was well saved low to her right by Abbi Bond.
Mollie Taylor is in exceptional form right now and tends to deal in special goals, after a couple of attempts had failed to find the target, she is a player you do not want to give too many shooting opportunities to. With half time looming, Taylor found the breakthrough. A fierce, swerving shot from distance deceived Footner in the Larks goal and the ball found the back of the net with a wonderful strike. Baker went close to doubling the lead a minute later, allowing the ball to run across her body, the shot on the turn tipped over by Footner. Half Time.
Whilst the Grecians had struggled to gain momentum in the early part of the first half, the start to the second was more significant. Charley Prouse played a lofted pass behind the Larkhall defence and, as Taylor sent in the cross, the ball looped over Footner and into the back of the net to double the lead.
Manfy Sharpe went close to a third, the defender's free header in the penalty area was not short of power, but just lacking in directuion as the ball flew over the top of the crossbar. Pengelly was next to test Footner, her strike on the half volley tipped past the post, as City looked to seal the game and gain more reward for their territory in the Larkhall half of the pitch.
As had been the case in the first half, as comfortable as City looked, the home side were to have a major chance with fifteen minutes remaining. A quick Larkhall counter found the forward alone on the edge of the Grecians' penalty area and the shot was once again well saved by Bond, the ball striking her foot as she advanced from goal.
Connie Pengelly went close once more, her left foot shot narrowly wide with the last City attack, whilst the game would end with a bizarre offside decision, the official failing to see the injured Grecians' defender Jaydee Seaman when the ball was played through. City held tight in the remaining minutes to keep clean sheet number ten of the season.
Abbie and Aaron had seen their side struggle on a difficult surface and against hard working opposition only a couple of weeks ago, the way in which City have learnt from that afternoon was encapsulated in this performance. Not a game for the purist, but a hard fought three points after a long journey north for an evening fixture. The Grecians will now be targeting three points from Sunday's visit to Cheltenham in what is quite simply, a must win game.