Exeter City Women progressed into the next round of the League Cup Plate Competition with a comfortable victory over Abingdon United on Sunday afternoon.
The Grecians started brightly, Jenna Markham winning the ball in dangerous territory and squaring for Ishbel Zuurmond to strike an effort onto the face of the crossbar. Markham then had two good opportunities of her own, guiding an effort into the hands of Abingdon Goalkeeper Sophie Kirby before flashing a volley just wide. Sarah Stacey tested the handling of Kirby once more from distance, before a poor connection from a back post corner would have seen greater reward had the technique been better.
For all the Grecian’s dominance, it was Abingdon who had the best chance to take the lead. A dangerous in-swinging free kick was met with a downward header forcing a smart stop from Abbi Bond in the City goal.
It was the wake-up call the home side required as within a minute they were ahead. Sarah Stacey sprinted onto a perfectly weighted Phoebe Baker pass and with Kirby racing off her line she rounded the Goalkeeper and slotted into the empty net.
City had needed to remain patient and confident in possession and it was a high-class move that rewarded them with a second. Mollie Taylor and Zuurmond linking before the cultivated midfielder crossed for Markham to tap in.
The Grecians then created a host of chances to end the tie as a contest, Stacey forcing a brilliant close range save from Kirby, Taylor bouncing a header off the crossbar and Markham getting her connection wrong from a Jess Sandland corner. Comfortable at the break but a disappointment to only have a two-goal advantage.
With City on top, Danial Knight’s side needed a response as the second half began, and they got it instantly. Poor care of passing led to Abingdon turning over possession and having a chance on goal, Bond saved the first effort but was unable to prevent the second effort from Lauren May halving the home side’s lead.
Markham’s lobbed effort nearly regained the two-goal advantage, before the City forward’s pace unnerved the Town backline enough for Stacey to capitilise. With the initial effort saved, the destructive forward drilled in the rebound for her fifth goal in as many days.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley added fresh legs to the team, a third game in a hot week a tough challenge for both sides. Tash Knapman, the matchwinner the previous weekend against Swindon Town, nearly added to her season’s tally, stooping to head a Watkins’ cross but narrowly missing the ball and, thankfully, the post.
Zuurmond’s guile and trickery looked set to add a fourth for City, her blocked shot falling into the path of Knapman and there would only be one result as she poked the ball beyond Kirby for her third goal in two games.
Knapman and the Abingdon defence then had their own battle, the City forward firing in efforts that were well blocked to deny the lead from extending, but it would be Zuurmond who had the final say. Watkins’ deep in swinging corner powered over the line by the head of the City midfielder from close range with a helpful nudge from Taylor.
Three games in a hot week, three wins and fifteen goals scored, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley can only be pleased with the efforts of their team. A trip to struggling Selsey awaits next weekend, before all eyes turn to St James Park and the visit of Moneyfields for what will be one of the key fixtures in the 2023/24 League campaign.