Sensational Stacey hits hat-trick as Exeter win at home
Ceri Vaughan-Jones was at St James Park to watch Exeter City Women’s impressive 6-0 thrashing of Portishead Town Ladies.
Sarah Stacey’s 20th, 21st and 22nd goals of the season helped steer Exeter City Women to an emphatic 6-0 victory against Portishead Town Ladies in front of a record crowd. 2,936 fans attended St James Park to see the Grecians hit Portishead for six. Ceri Vaughn-Jones was in attendance for Exepose.
Exeter started on the front foot, forcing Portishead keeper Chloe Fensome into a save within the opening minute. The intensity was maintained, and it wasn’t long until the deadlock was broken. Following some direct running, Ishbel Zuurmond was fouled on the edge of the box, giving Emily Toogood a golden opportunity to get an early goal on the board. And that is exactly what she did. A left-footed curling shot sailed into the top corner in the third minute; it was simply too good for Fensome. Portishead Town Ladies responded well.
The seventh minute saw an Ellie Strippel shot tipped over by Exeter goalkeeper Abbi Bond. The resulting corner was whipped into a dangerous area and crashed into the crossbar, before Laura Bassett’s rebound was blocked off the line. A let off for Exeter. However, the fact that this proved to be Portishead’s biggest chance of the game illustrates how the remaining 83 minutes were played. Having scored the opener, Toogood turned provider in the eleventh minute. Her lofted ball over the defence created havoc for the Portishead keeper and defenders. Sarah Stacey’s alertness allowed her to get to the ball first, before she rounded Fensome and finished into an empty net. From this point on, it was one-way traffic.
The Grecians’ third goal came from a corner. It was played short, and Phoebe Baker curled in a pinpoint cross to the back post, where Mollie Taylor was waiting. Her powerful header found the back of the net; the keeper had no chance. Portishead desperately needed the half time break, but the reds were determined to extend their lead. There was a flurry of good chances for Jenna Markham and Ishbel Zuurmond, and two Stacey strikes were disallowed – the first for a foul on the goalkeeper, the second for offside. Exeter’s fourth goal of the afternoon finally came on the cusp of half time when a Zoe Watkins free kick was crossed in from the right to Zuurmond, who turned and played it across the six-yard box for Stacey to tap in her second goal of the afternoon from close range. There was no stopping her this time.
The second half began. Sarah Stacey and Exeter picked up from where they left off. Six minutes into the second forty-five, Markham’s header struck the post and the ball fell to Stacey to complete her hat-trick into a practically unguarded net. She celebrated her 22nd goal of the season in style by doing the worm, much to the delight of the young crowd. Despite the outcome of the game firmly sealed at 5-0, the Exeter City Women were not finished. Having only just come onto the pitch, substitute Jess Sanland’s composed finish found the bottom corner after a great run and through ball by Zuurmond. 6-0 up.
The gulf in class really showing. City’s comprehensive victory became even sweeter upon knowing that second-place Cardiff City were held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton Women. Therefore, Exeter City Women extend their lead at the top of the table to six points, though Cardiff have two games in hand.
Next up for the Grecians is an away match against Swindon Town, in which they’ll be hoping to continue this fine form. This game was part of the Her Game Too campaign, which aims to tackle sexism within football. In front of a record crowd, this was a great advert for the women’s game.
Ever since the World Cup and the Euros, women’s football is getting bigger and bigger. It’s so good to see everyone getting involved and having so many young supporters here today.Sarah Stacey on the rise in popularity of Women’s football
Player of the Match and Hat-trick Hero Sarah Stacey: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m in pretty good form at the minute, scoring goals each week, but it feels so much better to do it in front of almost 3,000 fans. Ever since the World Cup and the Euros, women’s football is getting bigger and bigger. It’s so good to see everyone getting involved and having so many young supporters here today.”
To listen to exclusive coverage of the Exeter City Women’s games, tune in to Xpression FM every Sunday.