Westward Developments Devon Women’s Senior Cup Final
Exeter City Women 2 - 1 Plymouth Argyle LFC
Played at Coach Road, Newton Abbot 30/05/2021
Thanks to two well taken goals from Esme Kilburn-Thompson, Exeter City ran out deserved winners of this absorbing contest played in front of a healthy crowd of 553 who had clearly come out to enjoy the occasion in the sunshine at Coach Road. This being the first of a number of County Finals delayed by Covid 19 but due to take place over the coming weeks.
Plymouth kicked off playing towards the Clock End and were quickly onto the attack with Wednesday Wise and Sophie Buchanan unable break through the Exeter defence which was already showing its strength in the tackle. For Exeter Molly Taylor seemed to be finding acres of space down the right side however, the first meaningful attack came in the 12th minute when Exeter’s Anthea Kaptein got on the end of a deep cross from Manfy Sharpe on the left, beat the Plymouth defence with a neat flick and fired in a shot from 15 yards that Poppy Soper, in the Plymouth goal, did well to parry. Two minutes later it was Kaptein again, this time pouncing on a loose clearance on the Plymouth right but shooting into the side netting.
Exeter were well on top now and it seemed only a matter of time before their passing game would prevail. So it proved as, in the 22nd minute, they went ahead. An inswinging corner from the left was headed clear by Papaioannou at the far post straight on to the right foot of Kilburn-Thompson who made no mistake from 8yds out.
In the 27th minute Exeter increased their lead. A raking cross-field pass from the left finding Zoe Watkins, who cut in from the right and drove a low cross to the far post where Kilburn-Thompson was waiting to gleefully fire into the roof of the net giving Soper no chance. Two minutes later it should have been three nil when Zoe Watkins chipped in an inviting cross which was completely missed at the far post.
The Argyle ladies were being hemmed in by Exeter’s pressing game and had hope that an early substitution, with the experienced Kate Middleton replacing Lydia Huntley, who was clearly struggling at the back, would help them turn the tide. They began to put some passes together but were finding it difficult to penetrate in the final third, the Exeter defence continuing to hold firm.
Having repelled Argyle’s attempts to fight back Exeter went in search of a third goal that should kill the game off. In the 38th minute another excellent cross from the left found Connie Pengelly whose first time cross found Kaptein who had just strayed offside. A minute later a cross from Taylor, found the head of Kaptein who placed her effort just wide. Then, in the 44th minute, Taylor, still finding plenty of space down the Argyle left flank, picked up a poor clearance but placed her shot just wide of the far post from the edge of the box. Half time came with Exeter leading by two goals to nil but, in reality they should have sewn the game up.
As the second half got under way would Exeter regret missing all those chances. It seems not as their defence were easily a match for the Plymouth forwards who, despite seeing a lot of the ball, could not turn pressure into goal opportunities. The game was largely being played out in midfield and it wasn’t until the last few minutes that they were able to really trouble the Exeter defence when, in the 89th minute they forced their first corner of the match, which came to naught.
The 4th official indicated 6 minutes of added time to be played and in the third of those Beth Ireland raced into the box to score what proved to be a consolation for Plymouth but still made for a nervy last few minutes for the Exeter team who on balance, ran out deserved winners of this County Women’s Cup Final.
Star Player - Zoe Cunningham (Plymouth Argyle Ladies)