Attention turns to Sunday as the Robins and Exeter City get set to clash at the County Ground.
With cup business taken care of, attention now turns to Sunday as the Robins get set to return to the County Ground for the first time in over two years when they face the high-flying Grecians.
The last time the Reds graced the turf of the County Ground it marked a historic day for the club as they ran out 4-3 winners over Poole Town, setting a club attendance record of 336 in the process.
Jamie Lloyd-Davies’ Reds will be hoping for a similar result in front of a big home crowd when they take to the pitch this weekend, while the visitors will be keen to dampen the party mood.
Town return to league commitments for the first time in over a month on the back of successfully progressing in the FA and Wiltshire County Cup competitions, scoring 23 times without reply in resounding victories against Marlborough Town and Longwell Green. With goals coming from across the pitch.
Without a win in their opening six Women’s National League fixtures, Jamie Lloyd-Davies’ side are currently sitting in ninth place in Division One South West, with a record of three 1-1 draws and three losses.
It has been a tricky start to the season for the Robins. One defined by small margins, with all of the Reds’ losses coming by a one-goal deficit.
However, while there may be a slight sense of frustration – stemming from Town’s current league position not matching their ambition as a club – there should also be a large amount of optimism when the Reds take to the pitch on Sunday.
Lloyd-Davies will sense his team are close to turning narrow losses into points on the table – and that the combination of their recent free-scoring form and the backing of a strong home crowd could serve as a catalyst to kickstart their season.
Player to watch: Rianne Bourne-Hallett
Highly regarded since joining the club 3 years ago and an inspiration to the younger members of the dressing room, Captain Rianne Bourne-Hallett’s leadership skills may be more important than ever in the probable absence of manager Jamie Lloyd-Davies, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter.
The midfielder, who’ll lead out the Reds hand-in-hand with her son on Sunday, is certain to shoulder the responsibility while feeding off the Town faithful in hopes of driving her team on to three valuable points.
Having been handed a walkover win in the FA Cup last weekend, the visitors return to action for the first time in two weeks, looking to maintain their current run of form when they travel to Wiltshire.
Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side are currently riding high in third place, three points behind joint-leaders Southampton Women’s and Cheltenham Town, with a game and a healthier goal difference than their title rivals.
City began the season with mixed results, taking five points from their opening four matches following an opening day win against Poole Town, draws with AFC Bournemouth and Southampton Women’s, and a loss to second-placed Cheltenham Town.
Since then, however, they have enjoyed a rich vein of form, winning three league games on the bounce to move the Devon outfit back into title contention, as a thrilling five-way promotion battle continues to unfold.
Most recently, Exeter entertained Plymouth Argyle in front of 1,380 fans at St James Park, beating their local rivals in a tense penalty shootout to progress to the next round of the FA Cup.
The visitors will travel to Swindon knowing that a victory could see them move to the top of the division come Sunday afternoon, depending on results elsewhere.
Player to watch: Connie Pengelly
The hosts will be well aware of the danger Pengelly poses after the City striker came off the bench to score twice to knock the Robins out of the FA Cup last season.
With six goals in eight appearances this term, the 2020/21 Supporters’ Player of the Year has started the season brightly and will look to spoil Town’s homecoming and continue the Grecians’ push for promotion this Sunday.
How Things Stand
Venue: The County Ground
Date: Sunday 31st October, 2pm kick-off
Competition: FAWNL Division One South West
Tickets: Adults £3, Over 65 £1, Under 16 free. Available to purchase here.