Exeter City Women returned to the top of the National League Division One table with a clinical performance at Maidenhead United on Sunday afternoon.
Unchanged from the previous weekend’s victory over AFC Bournemouth, City started brightly. Emily Toogood struck from distance, whilst Sarah Stacey wrestled clear of her marker but could not find the final pass to create a clear shot on goal for her onrushing teammates. With the opening City goal looking increasingly likely, it would be United who would then go closest. Following two failed attempts to clear the danger from the Grecians’ defence, Abbi Bond had to be at the best to get down low and palm away a shot that looked destined for the bottom corner.
Lesson learned; the Grecians sprung to life. Connie Pengelly patiently held possession before a defense splitting pass for Jenna Markham, she rounded home keeper Gemma Harvey and converted to give her side the lead. Markham had scored two in two minutes against AFC Bournemouth the previous weekend and history was about to repeat itself, racing onto a perfectly weighted pass to steer the ball past Harvey.
City were now rampant and the reliable set piece delivery of Emily Toogood made it three, her near post cross diverted past Harvey by the head of an unfortunate Maidenhead defender.
With the Grecians confidently looking to further their lead with every attack, Phoebe Baker received a stray arm to the head inside the penalty area and Zoe Watkins had the chance to make it four. The City midfielder may have been sporting new boots, but it was the same old result from the spot, calmly and precisely finding the bottom left-hand corner.
Connie Pengelly intercepted a poor defensive pass, but could only find Harvey’s hands with her effort, before Baker went on a run into the penalty area, just being denied a shooting opportunity with a strong tackle. Half Time and it had been City’s half and City’s half alone.
Pengelly worked space to cross for Sarah Stacey to head wide of the target as the second half began, Pengelly again trying to play in her strike partner moments later, only to be denied by a block at the near post. When the fifth goal did arrive, it was no surprise from where it came from, Pengelly racing onto an exquisite Toogood pass before being denied by Harvey, this time Stacey was in the right place to smash the rebound home.
Manfy Sharpe, who had skillfully sauntered down the City left on a couple of occasions, nearly added a sixth, her header cleared off the line, whilst Pengelly was further denied more contributions with a combination of saves and blocks. Chloe Gilroy made an impressive cameo from the bench as she continues to settle into the new season, with Abbie Britton and Aarron Wakley able to rotate the team significantly in the second half and give opportunity to the City squad.
An impressive performance and no St James Park hangover for the Grecians. Portishead await on Wednesday and the North Somerset side will prove a tough opponent to overcome, however, if City can continue to maintain the performance levels of recent weeks, then they will have a good opportunity of securing another important three points.