Devon FA 4 - 3 Gloucestershire FA
Played at Devon County FA Headquarters, Coach Road, Newton Abbot, 07.08.2018
Devon Women prove too strong for Gloucestershire.
Two terrific goals from captain, Nat Matthews, plus singles from Nia Owen and Abi Breban enabled Devon to shade this entertaining match by the odd goal in seven, a result that didn’t seem likely as Gloucestershire’s Beth Clatworthy raced into the penalty area in the first minute to draw a good one handed save from Zoe Stock in the Devon goal.
Almost immediately Stock was again called into action, this time diving at the feet of Rosanna Blacker who had been put through one on one.
The Devon ladies weathered the storm and should have gone ahead when, in the third minute, Brittany Harris met a corner from the left with a well-placed header at the far post that was turned away by Gloucestershire’s custodian Ashli Whitbury diving full length to her left.
For the next twenty minutes it was all Gloucestershire but despite having the lion’s share of possession they were unable to breach the Devon defence. Their best chances came on 11 minutes when Maddy Brown cut into the box and shot wide and then, in the 20th minute, when Blacker got on the end of a cross from Brown and hit the post with Stock well beaten. In the 23rd minute Gloucestershire seemed certain to open the scoring as Brown took the ball around Stock but inexplicably shot wide.
Devon’s defence, well marshalled by Matthews, managed to hold firm and indeed it was she who put Devon ahead. In the 25th minute, finding herself alone 25 yards from goal, she tried an audacious chip which flew into the top corner out of Whitbury’s reach. Ten minutes later Devon were two up as Owen got the final touch to a cross that bounced along the goal line.
Four minutes later Gloucestershire must have been rueing all those missed chances as Matthews put Devon three up. As the ball came across from the right she unleashed an unstoppable drive from just outside the box, giving Whitbury no chance. In the 43rd minute Gloucestershire spurned yet another opportunity as Stock was able to deal with a shot from Laura Curnock when really she should have been beaten, and so Devon went in at half time with their three goal advantage intact.
The second half started with Gloucestershire pressing to get back into the game and Devon’s coach, Roger Bonaparte, used the opportunity to make use of repeat substitutions to shore up the midfield. However, Gloucestershire were not to be denied as, in the 55th minute, Blacker took advantage of some hesitancy in the Devon defence to beat Stock low down to her left from 10 yards out. Moments later Ellie Michael went close to halving the deficit, powering her shot just over from the edge of the box.
In the 66th minute Breban restored Devon’s 3 goal advantage slotting home a low drive from just inside the Gloucestershire penalty area. Devon 4, Gloucestershire 1.
Gloucestershire certainly weren’t going to take defeat lying down and started to pick holes in a tiring Devon defence. A mazy run from Abi Todd ended with a left foot shot just over and the warning signs were there as, in the 73rd minute, Blacker latched onto a pass from Brown, giving Stock no chance with her shot into the far corner.
The Gloucestershire fightback continue and in the 83rd minute Brown cut in from the right to smash home a powerful left foot drive that flew into the Devon net off the inside of a post. Gloucestershire’s tails were up now but despite almost constant pressure they could not find an equaliser.
Star player – Nat Matthews (Devon)