Argyle Ladies 4 Exeter 1
ARGYLE Ladies gave a scintillating performance to see off their enthusiastic Devon rivals in front of a healthy gate of 155 at Elburton Villa
The 155 will have left the ground thoroughly entertained. Kayleigh Brown's goal gave the Pilgrims a 1-0 lead at half-time, and though Exeter rallied, a double from Natasha Knapman and a long-range free-kick from captain Katie Middleton saw Argyle home in style.
Some last ditch defending and two good saves by Michaela Phillips kept Exeter at bay in the early stages, but Argyle eventually got into the game with Darcey Hepworth forcing a good save from goalkeeper Nicola Lipscombe.
Argyle then took a 15th minute lead when a good move ended with Ezme Wells setting up Brown, who fired a crisp, low drive from the edge of the penalty area into the corner of the net.
Dani Barr was denied by Lipscombe and Hepworth shot over before a great run from Wells ended with her shot being blocked. Knapman was at the centre of things, having two good chances and playing Dani Salt in for another, but the Greens could not increase the lead before the interval.
A few harsh words at half-time by manager Dave Leonard saw Argyle coming out looking to impose themselves on the game. Barr and Wells went close, then, just five minutes into the half, Argyle increased their lead when Knapman latched on to a Wells cross to fire the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Slack defending allowed Exeter to reduce the arrears when former Argyle player Katie Finch somehow had the run of the ball when she burst through a couple of tackles before providing a clinical finish. Argyle quickly recovered and further pressure told when, following a foul eight minutes later, captain Middleton stepped up to fire in a superb trademark 30-yard free-kick into the corner of the net.
Argyle were by now enthralling the fans with some slick passing moves and from one of those a pinpoint cross from Hepworth saw Knapman leap in front of her marker to score with a superb header against her old club.
Argyle kept pushing for more goals with substitute Becky Atkins having a fierce shot well saved with Brown shooting narrowly wide. Argyle were awarded a penalty for a foul on Atkins only for Barr to have her penalty kick superbly saved by Lipscombe. Wells then had a shot saved leaving Barr forcing another good save out of Lipscombe which brought the game to its conclusion and judging by the warm applause from the fans - many saying they would like to see more.
After the match, Leonard said: "We took too long to get going; in my half-time team-talk I had to remind them how good and fit they really are. They have everything, they just have to believe."
Argyle will be looking to extend their winning run to four games on Sunday when they entertain St Nicholas in the league. The last time the pair met Argyle beat their visitors 7-2 in the Premier League Cup.
"There are a couple of niggles but I expect everyone to be fit," said Leonard, who also advised that Kayley Lane seems to be responding well from her injury and will be given a run out with the second team on Sunday, when they visit Tavistock Community in the Devon League.