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Match Reports

📝 Women's Report: Argyle 1 City 2

21 April 2024

Match Reports

📝 Women's Report: Argyle 1 City 2

21 April 2024

Exeter City Women retained the Devon County Cup with victory over Plymouth Argyle on Friday evening, the Grecians third County Cup triumph in four seasons.

On a bright spring evening, it would be Argyle who had the game’s first big chance. Abbi Bond’s under hit pass was pounced on by Ellie Sara, but under pressure from the retreating Beth Ireland, the Green’s leading scorer could only aim her shot back into the grateful hands of Bond.

Despite six changes to the starting eleven and top scorers Jenna Markham and Sarah Stacey starting from the bench, such is the strength of this City squad, the Grecians soon hit their rhythm after a nervy start. Sophie Gillies’ pass finding the overlapping Katie Grigg and her low delivery just creeping past the back post.

Manfy Sharpe’s defence splitting pass was weighted perfectly for Amber Pollock, her deft touch and surge to goal stopped abruptly by Lucy Hack to give City an early penalty. Zoe Watkins calmly slotting past Argyle Goalkeeper Lily Felgate for the perfect start.

The lead was agonisingly close to being doubled minutes later, Gillies racing clear on goal and volleying beyond Felgate but denied by the inside of the post.

With the returning Ishbel Zuurmond and energetic Watkins applying pressure, the composure of Ireland dictating the tempo and Gillies’ creativity, the Grecians midfield began to dominate. Zuurmond fired a shot from distance into the hands of Felgate, while a series of crosses towards the waiting Connie Pengelly were well defended by the Plymouth backline.

A strike from distance before the break was watched over the crossbar by Bond as, despite Argyle finding some tempo to their own game as the half progressed, City stood strong to take the lead into the interval.

With City perhaps frustrated that they had not found a second goal in the first half, they would not have to wait long for it in the second half. Pengelly winning a free kick out wide on the Grecians left allowing Watkins to deliver a precise cross for Gillies to flick a header into the bottom corner of the net.

Argyle began to throw everything at City in search of a way back into contest, but with Sharpe and Mollie Taylor resistant and Georgie-Marie Barbour-Gresham meeting every high ball with a ‘not today’ header clear, the Grecians were defending confidently.

Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley began to make their changes on the hour mark, Markham and Stacey nearly hustling a chance out of Hack who did well to win the ball and draw a foul. Stacey and Gillies both had shots blocked as the game was now perfectly set for City to counter and it was something they were doing with a threat.

With twenty minutes to play, Argyle were awarded a penalty for a Taylor handball and offered the chance to get back into the contest. It seemed a generous decision, but one Sara took with aplomb as she fired home from the spot.

Growing into the tempo of the contest, Markham began to exploit the space on offer, her surging run and cross just evading Stacey at the near post. Gillies provided the cut back in the game’s next big chance, Markham’s dipping effort just clearing the crossbar.

Markham and Stacey linked inside the Argyle penalty area for another big City chance, Felgate getting a hand to divert Markham’s low effort wide of the upright. Markham would be denied by Felgate again moments later, racing clear of the retreating Hack only to see her clipped effort superbly blocked by the Plymouth Goalkeeper.

For all the Grecians chances the game remained in the balance and a late Argyle free kick was headed goalwards from close range but, thankfully for City, it dropped safely into the waiting hands of Bond.

Celebrations at Coach Road are becoming a part of City seasons, this the third Cup Final win in four years. Victory over higher league opponents again underlines the readiness this team have for competing at the next level and the hope will be that the next time these two teams meet it will be for three points. Before any musing can go towards that, the Grecians will need to focus on obtaining seven points from the final three league games to ensure their place in the Southern Premier for next season.

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