Exeter City Women made it twelve league wins from twelve in 2023 and ten successive victories this campaign with a comfortable 5-2 success over Keynsham Town at the Exwick Sports Hub on Sunday afternoon.
Ishbel Zuurmond tested Town Goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes early on, her driven shot kept out by a combination of knee and hand as it skipped off the surface. Jenna Markham then exposed the visitors high line by bursting through moments later, again Haynes stood tall to keep her effort out.
With the home side in charge, it would be a decisive move that brought the opener. Phoebe Baker’s perfectly weighted pass found the marauding Bow Jackson, her cut back providing a simple tap in for Sarah Stacey to give City the lead.
Stacey’s driven shot was palmed over by Haynes as the Grecians probed, but it would be the visitors who scored next. Another precise ball in behind a defence created the chance, Hannah Price with a deft finish over Abbi Bond to draw Town level.
Undeterred from the setback, City were back in the lead within three minutes. Markham chased down a long pass and cut the ball back for Zuurmond, the midfielder firing the ball into the far corner beyond Haynes' right hand.
The Grecians had not been at their fluid best, but a lead at half time was deserving of their efforts. However, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side continued to press and with that intensity sealed the points in the process. Beth Ireland’s cross was diverted into the path of Markham and her low shot squirmed under Haynes for her fifteenth goal of the campaign. To round off the half Bow Jackson turned on a loose ball from a City corner to claim her first Grecians goal and a three-goal advantage at the break.
Markham’s battle with Haynes again went the Goalkeeper’s way as the second half began, the City forward racing clear but seeing her shot smothered by on the onrushing Town stopper.
The next spell of the game summed up City’s afternoon, some good possession play to get the ball into dangerous areas but just not able to complete the final pass to create the decisive chance. Stacey, Zoe Cunningham and Zuurmond all creating good opportunities for both themselves and their teammates, but the finishing touch was just missing.
If a moment was to come it looked likely to come from the relentless running of Zuurmond, the dynamic midfielder chased down a pass wide on the Grecians right and her positivity to head to goal created a simple tap in for Stacey as the cross came in.
Ireland’s through ball to Zuurmond created another one on one but Haynes was not in the mood to be beaten. Town did find a consolation goal, a clumsy challenge in the penalty area saw a penalty given and Naomi Clipston comfortably dispatched.
Not the most clinical display from the Grecians, but that summary is one that says everything about the incredible standards this team keep. A 100% home record in the league in 2023 and a tenth successive win, this is a squad that has been playing ‘must win’ football for over a year now and that mentality will be particularly pertinent as they head to AFC Bournemouth in early December.
Next up it is FA Cup action as the team head to Cornwall to play Helston Athletic on Sunday afternoon.