Happy Days: Kirsty Caunter (centre) celebrates with Buckland team-mates Jodie Chubb (left) and Laura Gough following one of her three goals at Homers Heath on Sunday. (c)MiraclePR.com. More pictures available to browse/buy on the Buckland LFC gallery.
The first of many derbies for Buckland Athletic LFC this season saw Grant Fisher’s side host Exeter City LFC in the First Round Qualifying stage of the SSE FA Women’s Cup.
The last time the sides met was in last season’s SWH Devon Senior Cup with Buckland’s Hayley Chamberlain scoring the only goal to put Bucks through, Buckland going on to also knock out Plymouth Argyle en route to lifting the cup.
Exeter have since been relegated and Buckland promoted, with both sides now playing in the SWWFL Premier Division – along with Torquay United. Having also drawn Argyle at home in this season’s Senior Cup, Buckland are looking forward to some good crowds this season.
Around 100 turned out on Sunday afternoon for what many might have expected to be a close game. It turned out to be anything but as Buckland’s front line tore Exeter’s defence apart time and time again to rack up a 9-2 victory.
Exeter actually started the game brightly with two good chances in the first five minutes, the first fizzing wide of the right-hand post and the second missing the left-hand upright after Abbi Bond had rushed out to charge down a dangerous attack.
Two goals in three minutes for Buckland settled the nerves though. Laura Gough played the ball in from the right for strike partner Kirsty Caunter to tap in after five minutes. Then, a great move up the right-hand side, orchestrated by Jodie Chubb, ended in a corner on the left. The ball was worked back to captain Hayley Chamberlain who placed a superb strike high into the net out of the reach of Exeter Goalkeeper Shannon Watts. Buckland then turned up the pressure and threatened a third before Exeter broke away and won a corner at the other end.
The respite didn’t last long though. On 15 minutes, Gough burst past her marker on the right before cutting the ball back from the byline for Caunter again who doubled up. From the restart, Gough forced another smart save from Watts as the home side looked to press home their advantage.
Exeter had a chance to narrow the gap as they found space on the right on 23 minutes but there was no one in the box and the delivery went harmlessly out. Five minutes later, Gough’s acrobatic overhead kick was well-executed but just at the right height for Watts who gathered gratefully.
Exeter had a couple of decent chances before half-time, both of them falling to Dani Skinner who hit the first narrowly over and then missed her kick as a cross from the right saw her with a clear sight on goal.
HT: Buckland Athletic LFC 3 – 0 Exeter City LFC
It didn’t take Buckland long to extend their lead after the break, Caunter glancing a header past the goalkeeper from a right-hand cross for her hat-trick. Buckland then gave possession away which culminated in a lobbed goal for Exeter. Both sides traded chances but Buckland always looked the most likely to score again, Amber Coates forcing two saves before Gough slotted home her first of the afternoon.
Chamberlain left the field to a deserved cheer and her replacement Emily Hannaford was next on the score-sheet with a composed finish from the left-hand side of the box. As the Exeter rearguard capitulated, Gough smelled blood and swiftly completed her hat-trick, outpacing her marker for Buckland’s seventh and finishing off a superb ball in from Natalie Warman for number eight. Hannaford chested the ball against the bar before Exeter scored their second, a textbook direct free-kick into the right-hand corner. Substitute Abigail Meyer completed the rout, smashing home as she surged free on the right-hand side and Caunter almost made it double figures, placing the ball home after good work by Sarah Louise Stacey but the referee ruling the goal out.
With a bye in the next round, Buckland will go straight into the Third Qualifying Round. Their next game will be their league opener away at Bishops Lydeard on Sunday.