The ClickHub Devon Women’s Premier Cup Final
Plymouth Argyle Women 1 (3 – 4) 1 Exeter City Women
Played at Coach Road, Newton Abbot 21/04/2023
This much anticipated match up between National League South Premier Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City from National League South Division One, played out in front of 574 paying spectators at Coach Road, Newton Abbot start encouragingly with both teams having early chances.
City kicked off but were soon on the back foot as the two Argyle strikers put them on the back foot and within 30 seconds a poor clearance was played forward to Lily Greenslade whose shot was blocked. The ball broke for Kayley Lane whose shot was off target.
On the one minute mark there was a chance at the other end. Jasmine Reed in the Argyle goal was called into action but, in clearing from Jenna Markham she only succeeded in finding City’s Mollie Taylor whose effort from 25 yards hit the crossbar and bounced clear.
The game appeared to be set for an end to end battle and with only two minutes played a chance came at the other end, Exeter custodian Abbi Bond comfortably dealing with a header from Greenslade.
Following these early skirmishes Exeter were first to settle and in the fifth minute Sarah Stacey had a good chance as she raced onto a through ball but couldn’t keep her strike down. Exeter continued to press and in the 11th minute it was Stacey again, this time getting her head to a cross from Taylor some 10 yards out but placing her effort just wide.
Two minutes later at the other end Charlotte Whitmore got on the end of a through ball from Lane only to see her first time shot blocked by Jayden Seaman the ball cleared. The Exeter defence were really well organised, switching from a back three to a five and often catching the Argyle forwards offside.
In the 15th minute Stacey really should have put City ahead as she found herself clear in the box but hit her strike straight at Read from 12 yards who gathered easily. A midfield battle then ensued which Argyle largely had control of but the final ball to the strikers was not there.
As the game opened up again in the 35th minute Taylor, taking control of a pass from Markham, had a good effort from 25 yards pushed wide by Read. Three minutes later a free kick from Zoe Watkins was headed onto the bar by Markham, another good chance missed. Exeter were well on top now but were unable to make their superiority count. In the 43rd minute Stacey headed towards goal from a free kick but Read gathered, diving to her left.
Exeter might have been made to regret their profligacy in front of goal as, in the 1st minute of added time, Greenslade raced through their defence but dragged her shot from the edge of the box just wide. Half time came with the score standing at nil nil.
From the restart Argyle pressed forward but were unable to create any real opportunities as the City defence played with a high line closing down the space. In the 50th minute City went in front with a brilliant headed goal from Markham who was found by a pinpoint cross from Stacey racing down the right wing.
The goal was probably what the game needed, and Argyle started to force City back. With the help of some substitutions, they injected some pace into their game, Amber Pollock replacing Georgia Wilson and a change to three up front they started to ask more questions of the City defence.
In the 67th minute Whitmore broke through the centre of the defence but dragged her shot wide from just outside the box. Argyle were gaining in confidence and with two minutes left they got their reward.
Gemma Rose floated a cross into the box where Amber Pollack was taken down by Bow Jackson, Rosie Train converting the penalty. One goal each and six minutes of additional time for the teams to negotiate.
Exeter must have had their hearts in their mouths as, in the last minute, they conceded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Katie Dickson stepped up to take it only to see her strike just clear the City crossbar. So, for the second year running, the winners had to be determined by kicks from the penalty spot which Exeter won, Abbi Bond saving the 3rd kick from Argyle’s Imy Crawford, whilst both teams struck the woodwork once each.
Player of the Match - Mollie Taylor (Exeter City Women)
Written by Dennis Smith.