Exeter City Women recorded their thirteenth win of the season with a comfortable victory at Keynsham Town on Sunday in a victory that extended the Grecians lead at the top of the division to seven points.
City began with their usual intensity, Sarah Stacey chested an effort just wide of the goal before Jenna Markham tested the resolve of the home defence with her direct running. Markham came closest in the early moments, Phoebe Baker’s expertly weighted corner headed onto the crossbar from close range by the City forward.
The Grecians were being gifted a significant amount of time and space on the ball in midfield areas as Keynsham sat deep and defended their penalty area. Markham and Zoe Watkins tried from distance but City were having to remain patient, keeping possession and working the Town backline out of position.
With home goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes untroubled heading into half time, the Grecians were playing to create that key moment and it came just before the break. Emily Toogood and Markham worked the opportunity for the cross and Toogood’s delivery was flicked in by Stacey at the near post. Goal number seven of the week for her and 20 in the league this season, closing in on double her tally for last season.
Any belief that a City opener would see Keynsham change their game plan was soon dispelled as the second half began, the deep lying defence offering up possession to the Grecians midfield as they probed for clear openings. Chloe Gilroy was relishing the freedom offered and proved a constant threat as she looked to create for the frontline of Stacey and Markham.
A Toogood corner just evaded Mollie Taylor and Manfy Sharpe, before Gilroy hit a stunning drive that dipped narrowly over the bar. Jess Sandland awaited to tap home the latest Grecian delivery from wide but the Keynsham defender did well to get a touch and just take it out of her path. The goal always looked to be coming, but it cannot be denied how resilient the home defence were in defending their goal.
Sandland has developed a strong reputation for her set piece deliveries and it was from one of those that City finally landed the knockout blow. Sandland whipped the ball in to the near post and with a deft back heel flick Gilroy got the goal her performance deserved.
Phoebe Baker arrived in to the box with perfect timing to smash home a third late on as the scoreline began to reflect the Grecians dominance.
Three games in a week always provides a significant test and City will be happy enough with their week, especially after the defeat at AFC Bournemouth the previous weekend.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side now have a seven-point gap on Cardiff City Ladies, but, with games in hand, the destination of the trophy is still in the hands of the South Wales team.
With the Grecians already eclipsing last season’s points total and scoring more goals in the process, the feeling from both teams in the title race will be that this will be a closely fought fight to the end of the season.