Exeter City Women begin their season with the visit of Keynsham Town on Sunday, the team’s first game as permanent residents of the Exwick Sports Hub.
One of four teams that were relegated from the Southern Premier Division last year, Keynsham have had a significant overhaul in personnel over the summer. The Somerset side had forty-four players represent the team last season, that lack of consistency in squad selection, coupled with a string of defeats, ultimately led to relegation.
The K’s visited Devon for a League Cup Plate contest back in November of last year, with a Sarah Stacey hat trick giving City a 3-0 victory. That defeat was to lead to a run of just two victories in the remaining seventeen games.
Notable players such as Kerry Bartlett, Henna Butcher and Laura Williams have all departed Town this summer, meaning they go into Sunday’s game with a fresh look for the season. One player who has stayed in Somerset is former England International Justine Lorton. The one time Arsenal forward is defying the ageing process by still competing at forty-eight years old. Midfielder Amber Coates has had a spell in Devon with Buckland, whilst Courtney Adams and Shannon Redhouse are familiar to City having had spells with Larkhall Athletic.
It has been a difficult close season for the City Management, with a worrying lack of availability for Pre-Season fixtures among other teams in the area. City faced Swansea City and Bridgewater United before seeing their remaining two games cancelled at late notice.
However, recruitment has seen far more progress, with the core of last season’s squad remaining intact to help complement the arrivals of Bow Jackson, Emma Hunt and Emily Eaton. With Jackson having previous Super League experience, Eaton playing in the division above City last season and Hunt the young Captain of County Cup winners Torquay United, the squad has been significantly bolstered.
With another player with Super League experience set to sign before the season’s start, the hope will be that this is the year that the team can achieve their ultimate goal of promotion to the Premier South.
Exwick Sports Hub, 2pm, Tickets £5/£3