Exeter City Women fell to their first defeat in nine at Portishead Town on Sunday afternoon, ending their hopes of an FA Cup run this season.
With the match subject to an early morning pitch inspection, City started brightly on a tricky surface, winning a series of corners and asking questions of the home defence. However, it would be Portishead that would strike first, a ball over the City defence was poorly read by the Grecians backline and allowed Emily Lindsey plenty of time to stride clear and calmly slot past Abbi Bond.
City were working the ball into good areas but too often failing to execute an accurate delivery, Chloe Fensome comfortably able to claim the Grecians’ attempts to find their strike force without needing to stray too far from the goal line. Chloe Gilroy was offering the most accuracy towards the frontline, her deep cross headed over the top by Jenna Markham, as City looked to pull themselves level.
Emily Toogood had scored a wonderful free kick in the previous round, her dipping effort from a similar position on the pitch as close as City would come in the first half.
The Grecians began the second half maintaining a desire for patient build up, Markham nearly breaking a stoic Town backline before Gilroy fired narrowly wide. Phoebe Baker struck a fierce effort that was bravely blocked but the Possets had City contained, on a heavy pitch where it was a struggle to move the ball quickly, Town defended the penalty box with ease and maintained their threat with the pace of Lindsey and Rosie Hill
Corner kicks looked the best chance for a City goal and when Toogood’s delivery was dropped under pressure from Jess Sandland, with Markham scoring the rebound, it appeared the Grecians had a way back into the game. The referee’s whistle was quickly blown for a generous free kick and it had the feeling of ‘one of those days.’
Ellie Strippel sealed the tie with a fantastic strike from distance, her free kick looping over Bond into the top corner and earning Town a deserved place in Round Three.
No complaints from City, their eight-match winning run has seen some exceptionally high levels of performance and those levels were simply not maintained on Sunday. With three big games ahead before the Christmas break, including a very tough League Cup tie against higher level opposition MK Dons on Sunday, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s team will be looking to bounce back and set up an exciting 2023.