Exeter City Women staged a dramatic comeback to stretch their winning run to eight consecutive league games and maintain their position at the top of National League table.
Down to ten players and with time running, an 89th minute goal from Mollie Taylor was followed by a stoppage time winner from Emily Toogood as the Grecians stunned the home side.
The Grecians started in positive fashion, Sarah Stacey and Jenna Markham both inches away from converting a driven Phoebe Baker corner. Taylor had two opportunities from further City corners, the first a drilled effort blocked on the line before a misguided volley drifted wide of the post.
The game then had its first moment of controversy. Jaydee Seaman was rightly punished for dissent; however, the referee implemented the sin-bin ruling for the fixture, leaving City down to ten players for a ten-minute period. Confusion for the City bench and players, who had not seen the sin-bin ruling employed before in any of their games.
With frustrations growing, Selsey began to move out of their defensive shape and attack the City backline. A Seals counter forced a low save from Abbi Bond, but her palm away fell to Katie Delillis who powered a shot back across goal and into the corner of the net.
Jaydee Seaman returned to the action moments later, as City ended the half with more bookings than chances, Stacey’s effort just before the whistle as close as City had got. Bow Jackson floated the ball across goal and the City forward took one touch before firing the ball at the home goalkeeper.
The pattern for the second half was soon established, Selsey protecting their lead with a deep defensive line and City being asked to break them down.
For all of the Grecian’s possession and territory, clear chances were proving hard to find. Phoebe Baker struck a shot over the bar, Emily Toogood had her shot blocked, but Sadie Blakely’s side were resilient and orgranised and comfortably seeing off the City frontline.
On what was soon becoming an afternoon to forget, a Selsey counter resulted in a foul on the edge of the penalty area and Seaman seeing a straight red-card.
Stacey reacted quickest to a Taylor lofted pass, her effort blocked, as City continued the pressure but could not find a clear chance to level the game.
Time running out, and a player down, City needed a moment of magic. With a minute remaining on the clock, Emily Toogood delivered a probing cross to the back post and Taylor’s deft volley found the corner of the net.
Such is the mentality of this team the celebrations were brief, as with six minutes of injury time now remaining, they felt a winning goal was still a possibility. And so, it was to be, Phoebe Baker hooked Jess Sandland’s throw to the back post and Toogood stuck out a foot to steer the ball across the line and into the net. No shortage of celebration this time.
After chasing for so long, this was the Grecians first afternoon being chased, and it is a pressure they stepped up to. A scrappy, slow tempo game forever being halted by foul play, this was far from a classic.
However, if City want to win the title, they will need to come through plenty more afternoon’s such as this. A significant three points, lessons learnt on what the next few weeks will look like and another big test at AFC Bournemouth on Sunday. No one said this was going to be easy.