Petroc division one 

KS Cougars 1,

Exeter University 1

KS Cougars continued their strong season in Petroc division one last Saturday with a massively important game against Exeter University.

Last week's draw saw Uni sneak one point above KS on the top of the table and with only two games remaining, the outcome of the match could well decide who would take the league title this year, as a clear three points would see either team in an almost unbeatable position.

With all to play for KS started strong as they delivered a solid first ten minutes to contain Uni in their own half.

Both sides attacked the game at pace with commitment in the tackle and fast distribution of the ball as they exchanged plays across the pitch.

Inside forwards Bex Darke and Chloe Harvey had to work hard in the channels to create angles to attack the Uni D before covering ground to track their opposite numbers back as Exeter countered.

As the game settled into a series of quick exchanges KS still held the upper hand, creating more chances on goal in the opening stages. A short corner was fired narrowly wide and the Exeter 'keeper was pressured into several good saves from open play.

At the other end backs Fi Wadey and Gemma Harvey were covering well, defending at shoelace height and sweeping the pads of 'keeper Claire McIntosh to deny Uni any rebounds from her excellent saves and earn themselves a joint woman-of-the-match award.

Building from the solid midfield play of Sarah Budgen, Lou Read and Emily Read, KS broke down the right with 20 minutes gone.

Heather-Jo Webber drove to the backline and delivered the perfect angled ball back across goal for Hannah Durrans to slip home with legendary accuracy, slotting past a stranded Uni 'keeper to give KS the lead.

Exeter came back strongly and play swung from end to end.

Uni excelled at playing the fast ball, frequently receiving and offloading in one move to clear two-thirds of the pitch in a handful of passes. As the clock counted down to half-time, a quick break from Exeter saw a slow ball angled into the D.

With the minimum of fuss a simple deflection towards goal from the Uni centre-forward caught KS on the hop as the ball slipped over the line to bring the game all square.

There was little to address at half-time as the Cougars were giving their all on pitch.

With no let up from the restart both sides knew the game was hanging in the balance and pushed hard for a result. Rachel Roberts brought fresh legs to the Cougars formation as Tess Morris added volume and pace in a great spell.

With KS still creating chances captain Helen Symons turned to rifle an unstoppable shot just over the bar, her tireless jumping back and pressure in the attack showed grit as she led by example in a true captain's performance, backed up by vice-captain Bex Darke, who marshalled the KS press.

With ten minutes remaining it was a solid press on a quickly taken Exeter 16 which brought an end to Darke's game.

Putting her body on the line, Darke was fearless in taking position to be 'first in' as the Exeter left-back looked to blast clear.

A slack set-up by the Exeter player saw her striking the ball in front of her left foot, guaranteed to see the hit rise as the stick picks the bottom of the ball.

With painful accuracy the scorching hit caught Darke solidly on the side of the head, only her lightning reactions saving an impromptu nose job.

With the sidelines full of Cougars supporters, immediate medical attention was very kindly provided by Dr Adam Morris, father of dynamic junior Tess.

Several members of KS sponsors Southmoor Vets were also on hand in case Darke was beyond the realms of medical help, thankfully after a second check on Sunday morning Bex has only suffered some nasty bruising.

When the game resumed after the injury, KS adjusted formation and powered into the Uni defence looking to take the win.

Some last ditch defending saw Exeter clear their lines under pressure and the game played out with both sides still looking strong. 

The final whistle blew on a very hard fought game, played in a great spirit by both sides and with a well earned point for each team probably the fairest result.

Despite the frustration of not taking all three points, KS delivered a performance full of teamwork and commitment to maintain their unbeaten league record this season.

With their eyes now firmly on the Devon Trophy final on April 14, KS have one league game left, away against Dawlish this weekend, to round out an excellent season in Petroc diivision one.

The team would like to thank everyone who came to support them, the Kings Arms for another fantastic match tea, the amazing Dr Morris for his on-pitch attention to Bex Darke after her injury and would like to send best wishes to the queen of the #Dreamteam for a speedy recovery.