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Exeter City 3 (Wilkins 45, Shenton 90, Staddon 120)
Plymouth Argyle Res 2 (Jackson 48, Boyling 80)
after extra time
A goal in the final minute of extra time earned Exeter City a dramatic 3-2 victory in an enthralling Bristol Soccerworld Cup Final at Taunton.
Plymouth went into the match as favourites, due to them having won the Western Division One title, but it was Exeter who made a flying start in the opening stages. They carried the game to Argyle and it took a good save from Rosie Maguire to deny Kirsty Caunter, tipping her effort over the bar.
Natalie Shenton also saw a shot saved as Exeter continued to pile on the pressure but they could not fashion a clear cut chance. Plymouth had shown little as an attacking force early on but it took a smart goal line clearance from Zoe Kingdon to prevent them going in front after Kat Marment had headed a Danni Moody corner back across goal.
Exeter were still dominating matters with Josie Copp and Carla Staddon controlling the game in midfield. Caunter was next to go close as she burst away from Chelsea Easton and into the area where she lifted her shot over Maguire but the ball landed on the roof of the net. Exeter won the ball from the resulting goal kick and Caunter was put away again but Maguire denied her with an excellent save.
In the final minute of the first half, Exeter finally got the goal their play merited albeit in slightly fortuitous fashion. Naomi Wilkins played a 45-yard free kick into the area where the bounce deceived Maguire and went over her head to put City ahead.
The second half saw Plymouth come more into the game and they were rewarded within three minutes of the restart. Aoife Aherne clipped a free kick just beyond the far post where Bowe Jackson was on hand to beat Sarah Bell with a neat finish.
Back came Exeter and Shenton was brought down on the edge of the area by Maguire as she chased a loose ball. The goalkeeper was yellow carded for her challenge and Wilkins lifted the resulting free kick over the bar.
A Shenton corner was flicked on by Wilkins but Hannah Cox could not divert the ball home at the far post, while Caunter was inches away from connecting with a cross by Zoe Kingdon. The better of the chances were still going Exeter's way but the balance of the match was far more even now with Aherne impressing in midfield for Plymouth, while Marment was offering a constant threat out wide. Jackson and Easton were also having fine matches in the centre of defence for Argyle.
Copp curled a shot just wide from the edge of the area and Caunter hooked a shot narrowly over but Plymouth went in front for the first time, with ten minutes remaining. A Marment corner was half cleared and the winger whipped the ball back across goal for Hannah Boyling, on as a substitute just four minutes earlier, to sweep home from close range.
Plymouth tried to keep possession and run the clock down but Exeter managed to pick themselves up and pressed hard as the game went into injury time. The chance seemed to have gone as Shenton played a low ball across goal for Staddon who was foiled by a brilliant saving tackle from Shona Ardy. However, Helen Kukor crossed back in and Shenton kept her cool at the far post to steer the ball past Maguire to send the match into extra time.
The heat was now starting to take its toll and the pace of the match finally began to slow as the two teams became increasingly tired. As a result, there were few opportunities at either end despite Caunter and Marment both looking dangerous in their respective forward lines.
Plymouth were given a great chance with six minutes of extra time remaining as they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. Aherne stepped up to take and her kick was arrowing towards the top corner but Bell threw herself to her left to pull off an outstanding save.
Penalties began to look inevitable but Exeter were to come up with their third injury time goal during the course of the match. Receiving the ball on the right, Staddon pumped the ball into the area where the bounce once again beat Maguire and, under pressure from Kukor, she couldn't prevent the ball from finding the corner of the net.
Shenton might even have added a fourth but Maguire did well to save, however there was no more time for Plymouth to come back and Exeter celebrations were soon under way.
Exeter City: Sarah Bell, Zoe Kingdon (sub Meg Griffiths 81mins), Jade Maryan, Sophie Anderson (sub Helen Kukor 54mins), Tamsin Braund, Josie Copp, Hannah Cox (sub Alex Spencer 66mins), Naomi Wilkins, Carla Staddon, Kirsty Caunter, Natalie Shenton. Subs not used: Marika Giglia, Emma Jones.
Plymouth Argyle Res: Rosie Maguire, Caitlin Lower, Chelsea Easton, Bowe Jackson, Amy Caylor, Aoife Aherne, Faye Hankinson (sub Shona Ardy 76mins), Vicky Fannon, Danni Moody (sub Hannah Boyling 76mins), Kat Marment, Sophie Drake (sub Julie O'Keefe 86mins).
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