Exeter City Women completed their run of five successive away fixtures with a comprehensive win at Larkhall Athletic on Sunday afternoon, a win that maintains their lead at the top of the division.
Emily Toogood began the game in dominant form, exerting her presence with a series of dangerous crosses into the Larkhall penalty area. From one blocked cross, the resulting Phoebe Baker corner was headed goalwards by Toogood, the ball dropping just wide of the home goal.
With a confident start building, Jenna Markham hooked Mollie Taylor’s throw into the penalty area and the explosive running power of Ishbel Zuurmond took the ball to the byline before driving a cross for Sarah Stacey to finish at the near post.
Larkhall responded with a cluster of half chances, Chloe Snook flashing a shot wide after City failed to clear the corner. Snook then beat the offside trap moments later, Zuurmond’s tracking enough to prevent a clear connection on the shot as it looped over Abbi Bond’s crossbar.
On the half hour mark the Grecians were handed the opportunity to extend the lead, Manfy Sharpe was pushed over in the penalty area following a Baker corner and Zoe Watkins converted with her usual precision.
On a difficult surface, City headed into the break looking confident in possession and posing enough of a threat to believe that it would them who could get the game’s next goal.
Sarah Stacey rolled her marker from the first Toogood delivery of the second period, dragging a shot wide. Chloe Gilroy's exquisite pass split the defence for Toogood to again deliver, this time her flashed cross just eluded the run of Stacey.
Momentum suggested that a City goal was coming sooner rather than later and Toogood was again the threat. Her cross was blocked by the Larkhall defence and, as Stacey tried to convert the loose ball with an overhead kick, the ball looped up for Markham to nod home a third Grecian goal.
Markham’s outstanding through ball was driven wide by Stacey, before the young City forward raced clear from Ellen Dixon’s pass only to be dragged down by the last Larkhall defender on the edge of the box. To the surprise of those in attendance, the referee decided it was not an obvious foul and only awarded a yellow card.
The Grecians were not to be denied for long though, Markham and Stacey again linking play before setting up a chance for Zuurmond who fired low past Larks’ Goalkeeper Erin Foley.
City would finish with a flourish, Markham flashing a shot wide in between two glorious Zuurmond chances. With tiring Larkhall legs, the Grecians midfielder was causing a host of problems with her breaks from midfield, a mixture of composure and uneven surface denying Zuurmond from adding to her goal tally for the afternoon.
Against a team that rarely concede many, on a surface that was not ideal for City’s high possession style, this was a near faultless afternoon. A third consecutive clean sheet and nineteenth goal in those three, preparation for the final run in is gaining momentum. With five games to go, four of which are home fixtures, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side will be hoping for a strong finish. First up, Portishead Town at St James Park on Sunday.