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Women's Football News
Southampton Women 2 Exeter City 1
Southampton Women's consolidated second spot in the FAWNL Division One South West table with a narrow, hard fought 2-1 home win over closest rivals Exeter City at Winklebury.
With both clubs looking to narrow the gap to leaders Southampton FC, the result was in doubt to the final kick with home keeper Rose Kite preserving the three points with a superb last minute save.
Things had started well for the hosts with Laura Vokes giving them an early lead with a free kick well struck from wide right on 13 minutes. Erin Bloomfield was proving to be a real handful for the Grecians' defence and went very close to adding a second, but keeper Kyanna Orchard did well to deflect her shot wide on 18 minutes.
Exeter had looked lively themselves and equalised with a superbly worked goal on 23 minutes. Ella-Mae Miller played a lovely pass down the right touchline to free Connie Pengelly for a precise low cross which was fired in past Kite on the run by Daniella Tyson.
Exeter's Megan Robinson had a low effort well held by Kite but the home team grew stronger as the half finished without really creating any clear cut chances to leave a well contested match level at the break.
The real drama was saved for the second period. Orchard saved well from Bloomfield on 47 minutes but four minutes later was penalised with a yellow card for handling Philippa Holden's goalbound shot outside the box after again denying Bloomfield with an initial save with her feet.
The resulting free kick was cleared but soon after Southampton retook the lead on 57 minutes from another Vokes set piece, Kellie Warren showed great awareness to nip in between defender and keeper and flick the dropping ball home.
Any thought of a comfortable home win were soon put aside as Exeter poured forward in search of the equaliser. Moreover, a series of injuries to Southampton players forced constant reshuffles to formation and personnel with Bloomfield and the injured Warren swapping places for a while then finally substitute keeper Emily Paines filling in as an outfield player for the final ten minutes.
Through all this, Southampton skipper Lauren Cheshire led by example as the back line fended off almost constant Exeter pressure. The visitors had a penalty appeal turned down, then Georgie Barbour-Gresham fired a 25-yard effort inches wide after a defensive mix up on 76 minutes.
Southampton still looked dangerous on the break with Jane Yeates denied by Orchard and then by the post after a brilliant team move started by Cheshire in her own penalty area and involving five different players down the left.
It was left to Kite to deny Exeter a leveller deep into added time, diving away to her right to turn aside a low shot bound for the bottom corner and seal a home victory against a highly impressive Exeter City team, full of running and neat combination play.
On International Women's Day, this match was a great example of so much that is good about the game, full of passion, bravery and skill from every player.
Southampton Women: Rose Kite, Lauren Cheshire, Lucy Mear, Hannah Samuels, Gracie White, Kellie Warren, Lauren Clark, Laura Vokes, Phillipa Holden, E-J May, Erin Bloomfield. Subs: Mireia Perez Sanchez, Jane Yeates, Emily Paines.
Exeter City: Kyanna Orchard, Ella-Mae Miller, Emily Toogood, Manfy Sharpe, Abbie Britton, Georgie Barbour-Gresham, Anthea Kaptein, Megan Robinson, Eden May, Connie Pengelly, Daniella Tyson. Subs: Sophie Gilles, Mia Preston.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Mireia Perez Sanchez and Daniella Tyson
(middle) Anthea Kaptein battles with Erin Bloomfield
(bottom) Sophie Gillies in a 50-50 challenge with Erin Bloomfield
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