Exeter City Women continued their pre-season preparation with an entertaining clash against Adran Premier Welsh Champions Cardiff City Women at the Exwick Sports Hub.
The Grecians gave the visitors no time to settle as they started strongly, Jenna Markham intercepting Goalkeeper Amelia Forkings pass out, the stopper recovering to block the goal bound effort with her legs.
Markham had another great chance moments later, the ball falling to her in the penalty area as she volleyed over the top of the crossbar. It would be ‘third time lucky’ with only four minutes on the clock, Markham racing clear before slotting past Forkings from close range.
After the fast start the game became scrappy, City the more comfortable in possession with Cardiff a threat with the ball over the top. The home team should have doubled the lead on the half hour, Zoe Cunningham winning the ball in midfield and striding goalwards to create a three-on-three situation, her pass to Markham was slightly heavy and the cut back to Sarah Stacey was scuffed narrowly wide under pressure.
Cunningham and Beth Ireland linked well for the former to drive a shot onto the roof of Forking’s net, before Cardiff gave the City defence their first scare with a well-timed run that needed to be cut out by the covering Jess Sandland.
Amber Pollock was beginning to make her presence felt, City’s midfield finding her aggressive running with some sublime passing from distance, but the Bluebird's were defending the delivery into the danger area well and standing firm.
For all City’s good play, it was a mistake that gifted the visitors back into the game. An under hit back pass gave Abbi Bond a challenge with onrushing forward Lisa Owen, as the ball rebounded Owen reacted quickest and passed the ball into the empty net.
Jess Sandland was then substituted after a bang to the head as she made a challenge to repel a Cardiff attack and her replacement would make an instant impact. Never one to turn down a striking opportunity, Mollie Taylor received the pass as City worked the ball wide and lashed a shot into the top corner of the net to give the Grecians a deserved lead at the break.
The second half began with temperatures rising, both sides unhappy with each other as every challenge seemed to be greeted with mass annoyance. City were then the creators of their own problems once more, a poor series of passing in defence gifted the ball to Cardiff forward Rhianne Oakley as she chipped a stranded Bond for the equaliser.
Sarah Stacey was then dismissed for abusive language, before Zoe Watkins converted from a scramble in the penalty area to put City back in front.
Becky Dandridge came close to extending the lead, the ever-willing run of Marham offering space for the City midfielder to drive a shot at goal that was blocked from close range.
Sixteen-Year-Old Liv Giles was given her first team debut in a double change that also saw the return of Emily Toogood from injury. Giles was forced into a save as Cardiff struck from distance, palming the ball away before claiming a cross moments later.
Dandridge was close to sealing the game with a driven effort that just arrowed away from the top corner, but it was the visitors who scored the game's final goal. A free kick wide on the Grecians left was expertly delivered into the danger area and Megan Bowen’s powerful header gave Giles no chance.
Another good test for Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side, with significant minutes coming for the majority of the squad. City will finish their pre-season preparation at Liskeard on August 10th before the league campaign begins with a visit to Bridgwater United on August 20th.