Women’s FA Cup Second Round: Robinesses 3-2 Exeter

27th November 2023

Report by Grace Gunn.

Cheltenham Town Ladies progress into the third round of the FA Cup for the third time in their history after a dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Exeter City at Kayte Lane.

The hosts found themselves 1-0 down in the closing stages of the first half after Exeter’s in-form Sarah Stacey slotted her chance past Aimee Watson.

With just three minutes of the 90 left, Emily Allen (pictured) produced a moment of brilliance as the number seven struck a screamer from a narrowed angle outside the box.

The Robinesses were the team on top in the final minutes as Phoebie Poole struck a 90th minute winner before earning a penalty moments later where captain Emily Owen made no mistake in dispatching the spot kick.

A late push from Exeter saw them come within one goal but it was too late as the late goals from Allen, Poole and Owen secured their place in the hat for round three.

First Half 

A bright start from the visitors saw them come close inside the opening minute but resolute defending from the Robiness back line forced Jenna Markham to strike early, slicing her effort. 

The high pressure from the Grecians provided problems for the Robinesses as they broke through once again, but Watson stood strong, claiming the shot.

Cheltenham began to grow into the game as their first chance came moments later after Tash Harding broke down the wing, cutting in and striking from angle but City’s Abbi Bond prevented the narrowed effort.

Looking to break the deadlock, Holly Finch played a pin-pointed long ball over to Allen, but the winger’s low driven cross was intercepted by Manfy Sharpe. 

A cagey opening first half was looking likely to end at 0-0 but a break from a sea of grey shirts saw clinical Stacey fire her side ahead.

With their tails up, Exeter led at the break, giving Cheltenham plenty to think about.

Second Half

A fired-up Cheltenham returned for the second half as they got straight back to it with Charlotte Buxton winning a free kick. 

Piling on the pressure, Tom Davies’ side looked dangerous as Poole drove down the wing, sending a ball into the feet of Una Lue but Bond rushed out to collect the chance.

The chances were coming as Allen looked to get the equaliser from the edge of the area, but her curling effort forced Bond into producing a wonder save.

With 20 minutes left to play and their next round status hanging in the balance, Davies reintroduced attacking scarlet Lily Billingham who made her return following an injury.

The pressure from the hosts finally paid off as Billingham’s through ball found Allen who cut in on her right, striking from distance, giving the keeper no chance, and put Cheltenham back in it.

Fired up, the Robinesses looked for the winner and just two minutes later, were ahead for the first time as Poole battled off and rolled the defenders before striking her effort into the top corner.

Davies’ side didn’t stop there as Poole sprinted through into the box before being brought down, winning a penalty where Owen made no mistake, blasting the spot kick past Bond.

A late goal from Exeter wasn’t enough as Cheltenham completed the late comeback, putting themselves into the third round for just the third time in history.

Davies’ side will learn their fate later today as the third-round draw takes place at 15:00 and can be watched live on the Adobe Women’s FA Cup Instagram account.

Cheltenham: Watson, Llewellyn, Finch (Ackerman 30), Owen, Buxton, Collis, Lewis, Allen (Jones 93), Harding (Billingham 70), Poole, Lue,

Cheltenham Player of the Match: Phoebe Poole

D2 Interactive