Exeter City Women on Cloud Nine
The Graddon Vending Devon Women’s Senior Cup Final
Exeter City Women 9 - 0 Juventus Devon
Played at Coach Road, Newton Abbot 24/03/2023
A nap hand for Matilda Franchi coupled with a brace for Poppy Cloke plus singles for Yvie Miller and Lilly Burton showed that Exeter City were far too strong for Juventus in this, somewhat one-sided contest played out in front of a healthy crowd of 364 at Coach Road.
Exeter were on the front foot from the kick off as it soon became clear that they had too much pace for the Juventus defence. In the second minute Matilda Franchi raced onto a through ball to slot past the onrushing keeper, Sophie Packer, to give her side the lead. In the 10th minute Franchi again broke through on the right and crossed for Yvie Miller whose volley flew just wide.
City didn’t have to wait long for a second goal though as, in the 16th minute, Miller fired in a 20 yard free kick which was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Packer with Abi Scandrett putting the loose ball out for a corner. The corner was played short to Jemima Lister whose powerful shot was pushed away by Packer but only to Franchi who made no mistake, blasting her shot into the roof of the net from ten yards.
From the restart Juventus, continuing to play out from the back, started to press the Exeter back line and almost got Elli-May Evans-Pitts through, only to see Exeter’s No 3, Ellie Sills, take the ball off her toe as she was about to strike. Exeter responded and, after a series of passes in midfield found Franchi on the right. She raced down the wing to send a tempting cross into the Juventus box where Miller could only find the upright with her header.
Juventus cleared, but it wasn’t long before they were back on the defensive again, and in the 23rd minute Franchi completed her hat – trick racing onto a long ball from the back to beat Packer with ease.
Despite being three goals down the Juventus team stuck to their task and started to play more in their opponents half. The final ball just wasn’t there though, and Exeter were able to keep Packer honest, saving well from Lexi Watts in the 30th minute and then, in the 35th minute, Exeter’s Ellie Dixon, working hard in midfield, found Franchi free on the right. She crossed to Lister who drew a brilliant save from Packer diving to her left. There was no further scoring in this first half, largely due to Packer, and the teams went in at half time with Exeter leading by three goals to nil.
Juventus kicked off the second half with a steep hill to climb, which got only got steeper as Exeter scored a fourth within two minutes of the restart. Ella-Mae Miller went down the left, passed inside to Holly O’Neil, whose shot from close range was parried by Packer but only as far as Poppy Cloke, on for Lister, and she made no mistake firing across the goal into the far corner.
Exeter now had the upper hand and it seemed only a matter of time before more goals came and, after 60 minutes, Franchi got her fourth and her teams fifth with a clean angled strike from the right. In the 69th minute Franchi again burst through on the right, but this time pulled her cross back to Miller who gave Packer no chance from inside the box.
Six nil now and still the Juventus team kept plugging away. Their best chance came halfway through the second period when, having forced an error from the Exeter defence which resulted in a free kick from the edge of the box, unfortunately Natasha Lister gave it to much power, putting her shot over the bar.
Exeter responded and, with 15 minutes remaining, Tabitha Roche played down the line to Franchi whose powerful strike from the corner of the box was too much for Packer. Cloke added the 8th and in the final minute of added time Burton complete the rout.
Player of the Match - Matilda Franchi (Exeter City Women)
Devon County FA