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Exeter City 3 Marine Academy Plymouth 2
Exeter City claimed a semi final place in the Devon FA Senior Women's Cup with a 3-2 victory over Marine Academy Plymouth at Topsham Sports Club.
In the green oasis that was this corner of South Devon, an excellent playing surface allowed both teams to provide a very enjoyable match, with all five goals in the second period after a tight first half. Exeter created more chances but were never able to shake off an impressive MAP outfit who operate two levels below their hosts but are near the top of the South West Regional League Western Division One.
Marika Ghiglia set up Exeter's first chance with free kick from wide right, Natalie Shenton heading just wide on seven minutes. Shenton then turned provider but Catherine Wright shot just wide on 12 minutes. Marine Academy's Samantha Drewery tried her luck from distance but little was seen of the visitors attack and Elizabeth Stanley in the MAP goal was twice called on to make sharp saves from Lola Sanchez and Natasha Knapman was stopped by a fine covering tackle from Stacey Arthur.
Sanchez was proving a handful, setting up Kirsty Caunter for a shot just over the bar and Knapman for a back heel just wide as Exeter continued to carve out the chances and the break had shown Marine Academy to be well organised but needing a little more threat going forward.
It was Exeter who returned in style, Shenton digging out an excellent cross for Knapman to head home beyond the far post on 47 minutes.
Stanley made a good save when Knapman was sent clear soon after. Caunter delivered another perfect cross from the left but this time Knapman could not convert and Sanchez was also inches away from finishing a Shenton cross.
Just when the home team was looking dominant, Marine Academy fashioned a well worked equaliser. Georgie Talbot was sent clear on the left and beat a defender before crossing for Kate Nicholls to drive the ball past Maxine Coupe on 54 minutes.
Exeter regained the lead through Caunter's drive through the middle and powerful shot, which Stanley got a hand to but could not keep out on 62 minutes. Four minutes later a through ball released Knapman who squared for Sanchez to net the third.
Maine Academy were far from finished however. Excellent work from Nicholls saw her burst through the home defence. Her first effort was well saved by Coupe but the striker was quickest to the rebound to slot home confidently with fifteen minutes to go.
Both teams made attacking substitutions with Exeter's Carla Staddon twice going close, denied first by Stanley then by the post from long range. Marine Academy's Coral Smith got clear on the right and set up Drewery for a shot from 25 yards which drifted narrowly wide. The visitors finished really well, pressing Exeter all the way, defender Kate Hine making a great last ditch tackle to stop Talbot in the act of shooting.
Both teams came out of the match with credit. Exeter played some flowing football at times and created many promising situations. Marine Academy Plymouth showed great determination even when under pressure and bridged the gap in status to good effect. The Exeter City club provided a programme and hot refreshments for the spectators to warm a chilly afternoon as well as a good match.
Exeter City: Maxine Coupe, Kate Hine, Tamsin Tully, Natalie Shenton, Kirsty Caunter, Catherine Wright, Emma Redwood, Tash Knapman, Leah Brooks, Marika Ghiglia, Lola Sanchez. Subs: Dani Garland, Carla Staddon.
Marine Academy Plymouth: Elizabeth Stanley, Chelsea Easton, Louise Chaves, Grace O'Leary, Kim Eke, Samantha Drewery, Georgie Talbot, Stacey Arthur, Emma Anderson, Kate Nicholls, Leanne Griffiths. Subs: Coral Smith, Lindsey Harris.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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