Exeter City Women made it eight successive victories to progress to the FA Cup Second Round as they overcame AFC Bournemouth for the second time this season in a thrilling cup tie at the Exwick Hub.
High tempo starts are becoming a theme for the Grecians in recent weeks and Jenna Markham nearly capitalised on an early Sarah Stacey flick, Cherries Goalkeeper Katie Scadding quickly offer her line to deny the City forward. Bow Jackson broke into the Bournemouth penalty area to set up Sarah Stacey, her blocked shot falling gratefully into the hands of Scadding, before the visiting keeper denied Stacey again moments later with a full stretch save diverting the ball over the crossbar.
For all the Grecians pressure, Bournemouth were holding strong and began to find their own way into the game. Shannon Albuery beat Abbi Bond to a ball over the City defence, Mollie Taylor on the cover to clear any danger. Bond was then called upon to make a wonderful save with thirty minutes gone, Beth Everson racing clear and seeing her drilled effort denied by Bond, Taylor again clearing the loose ball.
With the game drifting into the half time break, City would gain a crucial advantage. Markham's willing run was rewarded with a corner and as Emily Toogood’s cross was cleared at the near post the ball bounced up and hit the hand of a defender, penalty. Zoe Watkins has had a clinical season from the penalty spot and she clinically placed the ball into the left-hand corner to send her team into the break ahead.
The second half began as cagey as the vast majority of the first half, a midfield battle with defences cancelling out attacking threat. With the game so tightly contested it felt either a mistake or a moment of magic would be required to advance the scoring, and it was most certainly the latter. Markham was fouled on the edge of the Bournemouth penalty area and from wide on the right-side Emily Toogood curled an unstoppable shot into the top left corner.
With the visitors now throwing everything at City, gaps were starting to appear and Markham is a clinical exponent of space. She raced onto Jaydee Seaman’s through ball before sliding her shot beyond the onrushing Scadding.
A three-goal lead, City safely through to Round Two? The visitors had other ideas, Beth Everson split the home defence and slotted past Bond before the referee awarded his second penalty of the afternoon with five minutes remaining, allowing Albuery to set up a tense finish. It was the second successive week that the Grecians had raced into a three-goal lead only to be pegged back for a nervy finish.
With the game now in injury time, Toogood sent a long throw towards Connie Pengelly, the City forward powered past the defender, rounded Scadding and, with the goal open, was fouled for the third penalty kick of the afternoon and a red card for the Cherries’ defender.
Zoe Watkins did what Zoe Watkins does and drilled the penalty home, the full-time whistle followed and City were in the hat for Round Two.
Another fantastic advert for the Women’s game, with both teams giving everything to see their side progress in front of a big Exwick crowd. Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side have a free weekend this Sunday, but will be back in FA Cup action on the 27th November where this lunchtime’s draw has seen them faced with a trip to Portishead Town.