Report | Exeter City Women 1 Argyle Women 4
Exeter City Women 1
Ishbel Zuurmond 49
Argyle Women 4
Ellie Sara 36, 44, 49, Whitmore 70
Argyle Women advanced into the FA Women’s National League Cup proper after a superb showing at Exwick Sports Hub where the Grecians were beaten by four goals to one.
The game began at a frenetic pace with the Grecians piling on the early pressure, however Argyle soon grew into the contest, the Greens forcing Exeter to be camped in their own half. Jade Widdows, Rebecca Dandridge and Grace Smith all had chances to give Argyle an early lead but Grecians 'keeper Abbi Bond was proving difficult to beat.
Exeter had a great opportunity to take the lead in the 26th minute, a precision pass found Bow Jackson lurking on the edge of the Argyle box, but Argyle Skipper Panagiota Papaioannou threw herself in front of Jackson's shot to clear the imminent danger.
Nine minutes later Argyle took the lead in sensational fashion. Ellie Sara unleashed a stunning half volley from distance which lobbed the rooted Bond. The goal was of fantastic quality, stunning the 500 plus crowd and sent the Argyle bench into jubilation.
Sara was given an opportunity to further stamp her and Argyle's authority on the Devon Derby contest in the 44th minute when the Greens were awarded a penalty. A Whitmore corner had caused chaos in the Exeter penalty area and after claims of a Grecians handball, Argyle were awarded a spot-kick. Up-stepped the confident Sara who doubled the Greens' advantage as her penalty found the bottom right-hand corner of Bond's net.
The second half began with Argyle unchanged, however Exeter shuffled the pack making numerous changes as they looked to find a way back into the game. The Greens started the second half as they had finished the first, taking the game to the hosts and looking to further extend their advantage.
Argyle didn't have to wait too long to be presented with an opportunity to further extend their lead. An Argyle attack, spearheaded by Charlotte Whitmore, forced Bond into a close-range save and as Whitmore looked to retrieve the loose ball, she was brought down resulting in Argyle being awarded a second spot-kick.
Sara stepped up to the mark again, eager to confirm her hat-trick, and did so with another well-placed finish into the bottom corner.
Three goals down, the Grecians knew they had to respond quickly if they were going to get anything from the game and they responded swiftly to their latest setback through Ishbel Zuurmond. Zuurmond broke the Argyle offside trap and found herself one-on-one with Pilgrims' 'keeper Jasmine Read before skilfully placing the ball beyond Read and into the goal to give Exeter a route back into the game.
The goal lifted the Grecians' spirit and Exeter began to dominate possession as they looked for a second goal. The game was to be decided though as Argyle pounced through a well-worked counterattack.
An excellent ball from Greens' defender Lucy Hack found the feet of Sara, who in turn quickly offloaded the ball to her strike partner Whitmore. The Exeter defence were unable to cope with the pace of the move and before they could get back to block, Whitmore had put the ball in the back of Bond's net to seal the win for the Greens.
The final chance of the match fell to Argyle substitute Katelyn Bell whose shot flew just over the crossbar following an Argyle corner, before the referee’s whistle blew for full time.
Argyle will now look to replicate their dominant display this weekend as they travel to Ipswich Town Women in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division.
Argyle Women: 1 Jasmine Read, 3 Rosie McDonnell, 5 Panagiota Papaioannou, 6 Lucy Hack, 11 Jade Widdows, 10 Rebecca Dandridge, 18 Taya Pomfret (24 Grace Perrins), 8 Imy Crawford, 13 Grace Smith (14 Tamsin Medd-Gill), 7 Charlotte Whitmore, 9 Ellie Sara (23 Katelyn Bell).