CTLFC 3-1 Exeter City Women

4th April 2022

Report by Jamie Cameron

Cheltenham Town Ladies moved one win away from the league title with a 3-1 win against Exeter City Women at the Corinium Stadium.

Three goals in the first 15 minutes made the difference for the Robins, and although Exeter had the better of the play from there, Cheltenham hung on to make it 16 league games unbeaten.

It’s also a third win from three against the Grecians this season, with Charlotte Criddle (pictured), Lacy-Jai Liggett and Courtney Jones netting the goals.

The Robins now have a five-point buffer at the top of the Women’s National League Division One South West, although nearest challengers AFC Bournemouth have two games in hand.

Manager Tom Davies made a couple of changes to the team that picked up a point away at Southampton last week.

Jones and Georgie-Marie Barbour-Gresham replaced Abby Bevan and Jade Grove, as Ellie Walecki returned to the bench.

Less than three minutes in, Cheltenham took the lead as Criddle picked the ball up around 30 yards out and unleashed a fantastic effort into the top-left corner.

After Amy Wathan’s effort was saved by Abbi Bond, Liggett doubled the lead shortly afterwards. She capitalised on a poor defensive header and finished coolly into the net.

It was three on 15 minutes when Jones showed great technique to volley home Criddle’s corner.

Aimee Watson made a couple of good saves in the 10 minutes following the third goal, but other than that, Cheltenham weren’t troubled too much until the 41-minute mark.

A powerful shot from range was parried by Watson and she couldn’t recover quick enough to save a well-placed rebound from Sarah Stacey.

That was all for the first half, and Exeter continued to have the most of the chances after the break, as Mollie Taylor had an effort on target and Robins defender Emily Owen blocked a long-range strike.

Cheltenham’s backline had to be at their best to keep the Grecians out, with crosses coming in regularly, but despite Exeter having the vast majority of the ball, they weren’t creating too many clear-cut opportunities.

Zoe Watkins had a chance on 78 minutes when the ball dropped perfectly for her, but she shot well over the bar.

Taylor then almost got another back, but Watson produced a flying save away to her right. Watson made another save from Pengelly at the death to keep the scoreline at 3-1 and seal the win for the hosts.

It was an exemplary defensive performance from Cheltenham to complement the three early goals and sees them move onto 42 points atop the division ahead of a two-week break from fixtures.

After the break, the Robins welcome Chesham United to the Corinium Stadium on Sunday, 17 April knowing that a win will guarantee the title.

Cheltenham could actually win the title next Sunday, 10 April if Bournemouth and Southampton both drop points against Chesham and Swindon respectively.

After the Chesham game, the Robins will go for another trophy on Tuesday, 19 April against Almondsbury in the Gloucestershire FA Trophy final.

Post-match, manager Davies said: “I thought we were phenomenal in the first 15 or 20 minutes to go 3-0 up.

“We gave ourselves a fantastic platform, worked really hard and played out the gameplan to an absolute tee. After that, they were always going to come back at us with both barrels.

“I’m not surprised by how well we saw the game out, but I’m still really proud of it. The difference today was just taking those opportunities early doors.”

On the upcoming games, he added: “We’ll sit down, reflect and create a training plan and we’ll go at it again this week.

“We’ll have next weekend off to let everyone recover and do the things they need to do, and then we’ll be making sure that we’re prepared for Chesham and the threats that they pose.

“They’re a fantastic side with some really good forwards who score a lot of goals, so we’ve got to make sure we’re at it and that there’s no complacency.”

Cheltenham: Watson, Owen, Butler, Barbour-Gresham (Hayward 86), Hallsworth, Jones, Criddle (Grove 72), Liggett, Haynes, Wathan, Robbins (Bevan 61).
Subs not used: Walecki, Reed.

Robins’ Player of the Match: Aimee Watson.

For the digital match programme for this game, click here.

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