Exeter City Women began 2023 with an impressive performance over Moneyfields, a win that moved Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s team up to second place in the National League.
City had forgone an extended Christmas break to prepare for a tough start to the new year and, having drawn at Langstone Harbour earlier in the season, Moneyfields were always going to prove difficult opposition. Jenna Marham has proved an excellent acquisition to the Grecian’s squad and, after scoring the first goal of 2022, headed home the first of 2023 from an exquisite Jess Sandland free kick. Sarah Stacey’s physical presence has so often proved crucial for City this season and one soon became two, Moneys keeper Lauren Sayler spilling under pressure from a Bow Jackson cross for Stacey to tap in for a two-goal lead.
Jackson was proving a consistent threat on the Grecians right side and her precise pass sent Markham clear, the forward finding Jackson again and her cross just evading Stacey.
Moneys boast an experienced group and, unfazed by the fast start from the home side, a quick cross into the City box was headed wide from close range. It was a chance in which Goalkeeper Abbi Bond really should have been tested. Karl Watson’s side were now having their best spell, and two back post headers nearly resulted in a way back into the game before half time. A lofted free kick was met by the head of Rebekah Tonks, only to see her effort drift wide, before a corner was headed onto the City post, Mollie Taylor clearing the rebound.
The Grecians ahead at half time but with the visitors beginning to increase the pressure, it was game on heading into the second half.
Kau’Inohea Taylor had a glorious chance to pull a goal back after the restart, Kimberley Whitcombe drilling in a low cross for Taylor to slice wide. With the City backline holding strong, it was a Jackson foray into the Moneys half that strengthened the advantage. The full back’s cross field pass found Emily Toogood on the edge of the penalty area and she calmed rounded Sayler and slotted home a third goal. It was a finish with the calmness that any forward would have been pleased with from the full back.
Moneyfields offered a threat all afternoon and found a goal for their efforts with twenty minutes left, Whitcombe with the low cross and Jade Widdows tapping home from close range.
Ishbel Zuurmond was announced as the latest addition to the City squad on Friday and it took her only ten minutes of her debut to make an impact. Toogood’s diagonal pass along the Money’s backline was met by Zuurmond’s surging run and she slotted past Sayler for what looked a clinching fourth goal.
However, Moneys came back again. City failing to clear the threat from the edge of the box and Gemma Simmonds fired into the top corner to reduce the lead and offer hope for Watson’s side.
Britton and Wakley’s side would hold strong for the remaining ten minutes before adding a fifth in injury time. Emily Toogood had scored a stunning free kick in the FA Cup earlier this season, and she added to her collection with a fierce strike from twenty-five yards that darted into the top corner leaving Sayler with little chance.
A fantastic contest that ebbed and flowed, Moneys are a competitive team and will undoubtedly cause many teams problems as they look to secure a high finish in their first season at this level, this was an important three points for the Grecians. We no fixture this weekend, the following three fixtures will have great significance on just how close City can get to leaders Cardiff City Ladies.