Exeter City Women enjoyed a Super Sunday at St James Park as a stunning second half performance secured three points against AFC Bournemouth; the fixture was played in front a record attendance for the team as 2,621 supporters cheered the Grecians on.
With the atmosphere unlike anything this City team will have experienced before you would have forgiven a nervy start, but that anxiety was not apparent as Connie Pengelly forced visiting Goalkeeper Katie Scadding into a smart save early on. Jenna Markham raced clear from a Sarah Stacey pass and pulled her shot wide, with a pass for Pengelly perhaps the better option.
For City’s lively start, it was Bournemouth who then went closest. A well struck free kick was palmed onto the crossbar by Abbi Bond, with Manfy Sharpe completing the clearance. Markham was again causing problems for the visitors as she strode onto a pinpoint Mollie Taylor pass, Markham’s cross just evading the onrushing Sarah Stacey. The Markham-Stacey combo was providing City’s best attacking moments, Pengelly setting the pacy forward away before her cross was deflected away from the foot of Stacey with the goal open.
Bournemouth had looked more settled in possession during the opening half and it was beginning to provide opportunities. A chipped cross was slightly overhit with two players waiting to convert, whilst Bond saved with her feet when the visitors were presented with their first clear strike on goal.
With the Grecians struggling to maintain possession and Steve Cuss’ team gaining momentum, the half time whistle came at just the right time for Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley to regroup their team.
Markham chopped her way past two defenders before striking at Scadding, with Jaydee Seaman and Manfy Sharpe working tirelessly at the other end to restrict Bournemouth's goal threat.
By her high standards, Sarah Stacey had not impacted the game in the first half as much as the Grecians would have hoped, but now she was a menace. Bullying her way into possession, a quick pass gave Pengelly her big moment in front of the Big Bank but the defenders block prevented a certain goal. Stacey, sensing her impact growing, pounced on some defensive uncertainty by blocking Scadding’s clearance, the ball spinning into the path of Markham as she tapped home the opener.
St James Park was now fully engaged in City’s attacking threat and one became two. Stacey powered towards the Bournemouth goal and released a stunning effort that hit the underside of the bar, Markham, who had been everywhere, was again in the right place to convert the rebound.
Bournemouth have topped the division already this season and are undoubtedly a quality team. A slotted pass in behind the City backline was perfectly judged by Lucy Cooper and she drilled the ball past Bond to half the lead.
A nervy end to the game was prevented just five minutes later, Stacey’s persistence won the corner and Emily Toogood’s pin point delivery found the head of Mollie Taylor to restore City’s two goal advantage.
Bournemouth kept up the pressure as the game come to its conclusion, a back post volley that went high over Bond’s crossbar the nearest they came to a second goal.
A significant victory over a possible promotion rival and a much needed three points after the previous League defeat to Cardiff City Ladies. With the football concluded, the team met with supporters spending over an hour signing autographs. The league victory will no doubt prove significant for the
Grecian’s season over the coming months, however the memories of playing in front of such a big and vibrant crowd will remain for many years to come.