Exeter City Women came from a goal down to beat St Austell and move back to the top of the National League One South West. The Grecians scored five times in the second half to complete a comprehensive comeback.
The visitors arrived in Devon after suffering a brutal 9-0 defeat at the weekend, yet any anticipated nervousness was soon dispelled as Beth Everson chased down a ball over the top of the City defence and calmly slotted past Abbi Bond for the lead.
Undeterred, the Grecians began to find some rhythm to their play as Connie Pengelly had three quick opportunities on the visitor's goal. Phoebe Baker was dominant in midfield and linking positively with Becky Dandridge and Emily Eaton, but the final pass was not finding its target and City were largely restricted to efforts from distance.
Dandridge tested the handling of Lilywhites’ Goalkeeper Maisie Frickleton, moments later Baker collided with the St Austell Goalkeeper leading to strong shouts for a penalty, but not in the eyes of the referee. Frustrated with a lack of goals for their dominance, City went into half time behind for the first time this season.
Connie Pengelly has proven herself as a consistent goal threat for the Grecians, as her latest chance drifted wide early in the second half you had to suspect that the visitors could not keep offering her attempts on goal. With five minutes of the half played, a short corner worked the crossing opportunity for Baker and her delivery was guided in for the equaliser by the City Number Nine.
Motivated by the goal, City were now hitting their stride. Sarah Stacey was asserting her presence on the game and, after blocking an attempted clearance, she lobbed the perfect shot over the advancing Frickleton to put the Grecians in front.
St Austell had given a spirited performance, but Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side were now dominant. A hand ball from an Emily Toogood corner gave Zoe Watkins the chance to make it three and the City midfielder rarely misses from the spot, calmly slotting in the home team’s third.
Watkins tested the solidity of the Goal frame shortly after; a quick free kick gave her space to unleash a fierce effort that would have been a goal to send the record Hub attendance home happy with. However, that accolade would go to Jess Sandland. After Bow Jackson had drawn another confident block from Frickleton, she cut the ball back to Sandland and the teenager's thumping effort arrowed into the top corner.
The Grecians still found time for one more, Sandland’s corner was met by the head of Mollie Taylor and the ball bounced through a crowd of defenders and over the line for a fifth goal. It had been an empathic second half performance.
City now face two away games against sides who, you would anticipate, will be in the title hunt this season, starting with Southampton Womens FC on Sunday. They will need to be at their best to pick up points from the two fixtures, but one thing we have seen in this embryotic stage of the season is the team’s resilience.