City Edge Argyle in Thrilling Womens Premier Cup Final

Goals from Zoe Watkins and Sophie Gillies were enough for Exeter City Women to win the A&S Interiors Women's Premier Cup Final.

The A & S Interiors Devon Women’s Premier Cup Final

Exeter City   2 - 1  Plymouth Argyle  

Played at Coach Road, Newton Abbot 19/04/2024

Goals from Zoe Watkins, from the penalty spot, and Sophie Gillies, in front of a healthy attendance of 635 spectators, were enough for  Exeter City, from the Women’s Football Pyramid Tier 4, to overcome their tier three opponents and deservedly take home the trophy, for the third time in four seasons.

City kicked off but were soon forced onto the defensive and goalkeeper Abbi Bond was called upon, as early as the second minute, to deal with a strike from Argyle’s Ellie Sara. However, the City team, spurred on by that let off, soon took control of the midfield and, in the sixth minute, had their first chance, Connie Pengelly driving in a free kick from thirty yards which was well dealt with by Argyle’s custodian Lily Felgate. A minute later, Katie Grigg pounced on a through ball down the right but fired her shot across Felgate and just past the far post.

In the ninth minute City went ahead. Amber Pollock, put through, was clumsily brought down in the penalty area by Lily Hack and Watkins converted from the spot. In the twelfth minute City were unfortunate not to double their lead, Gillies racing into the box, her shot beating Felgate but striking the inside of the post, the rebound being cleared for a corner. City were dominating the midfield but were unable make their dominance count and, in the twenty-fifth minute, were almost caught out by Argyle’s Charlotte Whitmore, who with a drag back and turn on the edge of the box, brought a save from Bond.

The game was beginning to open up, but it was the City midfield still having the lion’s share of the possession, largely through Beth Ireland, who was busily breaking up the Argyle forward play and finding the gaps in the Argyle back line, where Ishbel Zuurmond and Watkins were giving the Argyle defenders a torrid time. On the half-hour Zuurmond saw her shot from twenty five yards well saved by Felgate.

In the thirty-eighth minute Argyle’s Imogen Crawford managed to break through but could only watch in despair as her effort from distance flew over Bond but cleared the crossbar. Argyle stepped up their pace but were unable to trouble resolute City defence and the half time whistle came with the score at one goal to nil in favour of Exeter.

City must have been disappointed to go into the break with only one goal to show for their first half dominance but came out for the second half straight on the front foot and soon doubled their lead. Connie Pengelly was fouled wide out on the City left. The free kick was floated in by Watkins for Gillies to guide a header into the bottom corner giving Bond no chance. Two nil to Exeter and no one could have any complaints, such was their control in midfield.

Argyle’s strikers were feeding off scraps really, but they weren’t completely out of it as Sara showed in the fifty-sixth minute, although her shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Bond. Two minutes later City brought on their finishers with Jenna Markham, Sarah Stacey and Phoebe Barker replacing Zuurmond, Pollock and Pengelly. The move didn’t seem to have the desired effect and with twenty minutes left on the clock Argyle were awarded a penalty, Mollie Taylor adjudged to have handled a through ball amongst a crowd of players. It seemed harsh but that didn’t bother Sara who blasted the spot kick home. Two – one now and all to play for.

Argyle’s tails were up now and the began to press forward. Fern Orchard saw her shot well saved by Bond and the resulting corner was headed over from close in by Panagiota Paapaiopinnou. That was a good as it got for Argyle and the last ten minutes were all Exeter. Markham got on the end of a cross from Grigg but placed her shot just over and with two minutes left of normal time It was Markham again. One on one with Felgate it was the keeper who came out with a block to deny her.

The match officials indicated there would be five minutes added time and in the fourth of those Argyle were denied an equaliser, Bond grabbing a header from close range following a free kick swung in from the right. And so, the cup went back to Exeter by two goals to one.

Player of the Match -  Beth Ireland (Exeter City)

Dennis Smith

Devon County FA