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Tractor Girls' Cup Fairytale Ends at Manchester City
Sunday, 16th Feb 2020 16:11 by Ali Rampling

Ipswich Town Women’s fairytale FA Cup journey came to an end at the hands of cup holders and WSL leaders Manchester City, as they suffered a 10-0 loss at the Academy Stadium.

Despite a spirited display from Joe Sheehan’s young side, hat-tricks from Pauline Bremer, Georgia Stanway and Jess Park hat-trick and a Laura Coombs strike condemned the Tractor Girls to defeat against their fully professional opponents.

Town had already won six matches to progress to this stage of the competition, following wins over Royston Town, Norwich, AFC Basildon, Chichester, Portsmouth and Huddersfield.

Opponents Manchester City were playing in just their second FA Cup fixture of the season, having beaten rivals Manchester United 3-2 in the previous round.

Ipswich manager Joe Sheehan celebrated his one-year anniversary in charge of the club on Saturday, while in the opposition dugout, ex-Blues loan winger Alan Mahon was taking charge of just his second Manchester City game after replacing former boss Nick Cushing, who departed the club for New York City, at the beginning of February.

Town made five changes from the side that beat Kent Football United a fortnight ago, reverting back to the team that made history at Huddersfield in the previous round. Nikita Runnacles, Paige Peake, Sophie Peskett, Abbie Lafayette and fourth round hero Maddie Biggs all returned to the starting XI.

Town’s team had an average age of 21, with 18-year-old midfielder Blue Wilson, who spent a season in the Manchester City U21 set-up prior to joining the Tractor Girls over the summer, one of seven teenagers named in the starting line-up.

Manchester City named a slightly understrength side, however it still included 10 full internationals, including England captain Steph Houghton, in addition to Keira Walsh, Demi Stokes and Georgia Stanway, who all starred for the Lionesses during their run to the World Cup semi-finals last summer.

Norwich academy product Lauren Hemp also started, with 18-year-old Jess Park the only player in the hosts’ line-up yet to be capped at senior international level - although the youngster was singled out by Cushing in his final press conference as one to watch for club and country over the coming years.

Fast starts have been a common theme throughout Town’s season so far, having taken the lead inside the opening three minutes during their last four outings. However, it was City who almost opened the scoring inside 90 seconds, as Hemp’s deflected cross was headed onto the bar by Pauline Bremer.

On 12, Houghton picked out Bremer in the Town box. The German international teed-up Jess Park, but her goal-bound effort was bravely headed over by Lucy Egan.

Although City had created the two clearest openings and had seen more of the ball during the first quarter of an hour, Town were more than holding their own. Wilson and Lafayette were harrying in midfield, winning the ball back for the Blues with a selection of crunching tackles.

In the 16th minute, Hemp scampered down the left wing and found Bremer, but the City striker’s shot was blocked. Town defended well, and from the resulting clearance, Anna Grey launched the Tractor Girls' first attack. She steamed through Georgia Stanway and won the Blues’ first corner of the game as her shot deflected off Houghton.

However, from the corner, City cleared and sent Laura Coombs away. The midfielder had too much pace for Wilson, raced into the box and slotted the ball past Nikita Runnacles to give the hosts the lead.

City should have made doubled their advantage two minutes later, but Runnacles produced a superb save, blocking Hemp’s strike from the inside of the area with her legs.

In the 25th minute, City did have their second. Hemp picked out Bremer, and City’s top scorer made no mistake this time, feinting to shoot before burying the ball into the bottom left corner.

The hosts grabbed a third on the half-hour mark, with Hemp again at the heart of the action. Her cross was cleared, but only as far as Park on the edge of the Town box. The forward rifled her shot into corner of the net.

On the stroke of half-time, a flowing City move saw Walsh release Janine Beckie down the Ipswich left. Her delivery was headed wide by Coombs.

The first period finished with City leading 3-0, despite a dogged Town performance. Although Runnacles had been forced into some smart saves, the Blues had not played badly by any means.

Peake, Egan and Lindsey Cooper were all holding firm at the back, making a selection of important blocks and interceptions, while Wilson, Lafayette and Amanda Crump had not shied away from a challenge in the middle of the park.

Town had refused to compromise their passing principles, attempting to play out from the back at any given opportunity and knocking the ball around well when in possession.

However, when City got into their groove, they were a very difficult side to stop. The majority of WSL sides have struggled to cope with their slick football this season, so it was no surprise that Town’s fourth tier side had been caused problems.

Grey had been Town’s standout performer at wing-back, demonstrating resilience defensively and producing Town’s two most promising moments of the half, with two darting runs down the left and a cheeky nutmeg through the legs of England international Stanway.

Both sides were unchanged for the second half, and City came close to making it four within the opening 30 seconds, but Bremer dragged her shot wide while being held off by Egan.

On 49, City did have their fourth. Runnacles could do nothing about Bremer’s fizzing drive into the top corner, the striker’s 17th goal of the season.

The lively Hemp was then replaced by Portuguese international Matilde Fidalgo.

Town were soaking up heavy City pressure as they struggled to get out of their own half. Cooper made a vital block to deny Bremer a hat-trick, before Stanway fired over from just outside the six-yard area.

On 54, Town’s top scorer Natasha Thomas was replaced by Eloise King, having run her heart out up front.

Stanway netted City’s fifth in the 57th minute, poking home Beckie’s perfect delivery from close range.

Bremer sealed her hat-trick in the 64th minute, completing a terrific Man City move with a dinked finish.

Moments later it was seven. Beckie raced onto Bremer’s flick on and picked out Stanway in the box, who found the back of the net.

Grey went into the book on 67 after bringing down Stanway on the edge of the area.

Runnacles produced a marvellous save as the clocked ticked towards the 70-minute mark, stretching to tip Coombs’ strike around the post.

Tyler Toland was replaced by Emma Bissel on 72, bringing City’s senior international head count down to a mere nine.

Jess Park scored her second of the game 13 minutes from time, calmly slotting home after Beckie’s delicate through ball.

Park completed her hat-trick in style, finding the top corner from distance in the 80th minute.

Grey called Karima Benameur into action with eight minutes remaining, flying down the left, before her cross-come-shot was held by the City keeper.

Sophie Peskett typified Town’s dogged display on 83 with a superb block on the edge of the area. Moments later, she was replaced by Nicole Pannifer following a tenacious performance at right wing-back. Tessa Wullaert came on for Jess Park, bringing City’s number of senior internationals back up to 10.

Stanway completed her hat-trick on 85 with a fabulous strike from range. On 89, the excellent Lafayette was replaced by Paige Wakefield.

The game finished 10-0 with Town having not disgraced themselves against a wonderful Manchester City side. They were spirited, dogged and resilient, while pinging the ball around on the deck when in possession.

Ultimately, City’s sheer quality took its toll, but Town’s young history makers can hold their heads up high, having gained unprecedented attention for women’s football in Ipswich.

They are a young, talented side with bags of potential and now have a real shot at promotion to the Southern Premier Division this season.

The Tractor Girls are back in action on Wednesday evening, as they travel to Plantation Park to face Norwich City in the final East Anglian derby of the season.

Ipswich Town: Runnacles, Egan, Cooper, Peake, Grey, Peskett (Pannifer), Wilson, Crump, Lafayette (Wakefield), Thomas (King) Biggs. Unused: Williamson, Hubbard, Cossey, Rossiter

Manchester City: Benameur, Stokes, Houghton, Beckie, Stanway, Walsh, Toland (Bissell), Hemp (Fidalgo) Park (Wullaert), Coombs, Bremer. Unused: Scott, Weir. Referee: Lucy Oliver. Attendance: 1313

Photo: ITFC Women/Ross Halls

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

Doctor_Earman added 16:33 - Feb 16
''They are a young, talented side with bags of potential''

Nice attempt in trying to gloss over a 10-0 humiliation.

raycrawfordswig added 16:33 - Feb 16
Just goes to show with enough money you can buy anything.

algarvefan added 16:35 - Feb 16
Ladies you have been a credit to yourselves and the club and there is no disgrace in today, well done on your achievements, now go on and win the league, I'll have a word with the boys to see if they can do that too!!

TractorBeezer added 16:47 - Feb 16
Tough opposition today ladies. Very proud of you!

NicRams added 16:53 - Feb 16
Despite doing something amazing there is still negativity. Well done ladies a superb effort and I know that you’ve made the majority of Ipswich Town fans very proud.

blueboy1981 added 16:57 - Feb 16
Ladies you’ve done well to get to this stage, however 10-0 is a mauling and pretty disgusting scoreline. After all, it was eleven v eleven.
If there was such a difference in expected class, one has to question the point of participation in such competition.
In fairness, I think most people would have expected a better performance.
I’m not surprised really, because the words I heard media and otherwise beforehand, indicated that defeat had virtually happened before travelling.
Only hope that all concerned have learnt something from it, in consolation.

runningout added 17:04 - Feb 16
We know there’s plenty of room for improvement in our women and men’s game

Marinersnose added 17:20 - Feb 16
A great experience for the team but clearly a massive gulf in ability. Memories forever

yorkshire added 17:24 - Feb 16
Wow - disappointed to read a couple of those posts - guess that is what it all about these days - who can say the dumbest most horrible things

As for the result - for them to be playing against 10 internationals who train full time then of course it was going to be a step up in class - sounds like they handled themselves well and can be very proud to have gotten this far

Let’s hope it is the start of things to come for Ipswich Ladies and we can all be supportive of their rise up the leagues

Generic added 17:28 - Feb 16
Man City have more international players than we do adults - I can’t believe anyone can be negative about the performance of a group of talented (current) amateurs juggling training with A-Levels vs fully-honed players who were at the World Cup last summer. The mind boggles. There’s some right pillocks on this site sometimes. Well done ITFCW, get some test smash the budgies on Wednesday!!!

CBMTOBWMMBG added 17:30 - Feb 16
Doctor E and Blueboy...

I hope you never come up and against impossible opposition in a part of your life, try hard but are well beaten and then are insulted for it.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Hegansheros added 17:31 - Feb 16
Bb1981. Thank goodness the girls will not give a s### what you think you moron.

shaunmahony added 17:31 - Feb 16
Harsh comments on here - 8 teenagers in an amateur team against mostly international professionals, so the score is not surprising - to suggest a low ranked team should not enter the FA Cup because at some stage if they go far enough they will get a tonking rather negates the point of the FA Cup. Fram Town entered the mens - what do you think the score would have been if by some fluke they played their way through to get a 3rd round tie away at Liverpool!

stevieiriswattii added 17:42 - Feb 16
A couple of astonishing comments from idiots tapping away on their keyboards in the security of the childhood bedroom. One day you’ll grow up and have something sensible to say.
Congrats ladies on a memorable run.

therein61 added 18:01 - Feb 16
Although you young ladies will have nightmares about this hold your heads up high you have done the club proud and collectively will improve and in a few seasons will give the likes of Man City etc a tanking!!! you are young the future is yours to take in your grasp and go forward VERY WELL DONE ALL OF YOU.

blueboy1981 added 18:06 - Feb 16
Kindness is fine - equally, reality is common sense.
With no need for name calling - best left to cloud cuckoo land people, who know no better.

stevieiriswattii added 18:19 - Feb 16
Blueboy, how is calling it a 'disgusting scoreline' common sense? You've shot your own opinion in the head. If you've left it as mauling, or added outclassed, overwhelmed, your comment probably would have been ignored.

chrisswailes added 18:21 - Feb 16
State of some of these comments.

Let’s mass downvote the lot of them. People are idiots.

bluearmy81 added 18:26 - Feb 16
Doctor Earman and blueboy1981 . What a couple of pillocks you are . If anything is disgusting it's those comments from you. Remember the part time girls are only in their second full season and they were playing a team of professional internationals who are unbeaten in the top league. Try to be realistic before posting such drivel

cat added 18:30 - Feb 16
God I swear that some ‘people’ just sit and wait for a controversial post then ‘bang’ their on it. Wouldn’t be so bad if a few of them posted once in a while. I actually enjoyed the humour in the ‘docs’ post (lol). Guess that’s gonna cost me a few uppers 😂 but hey each to their own.

runaround added 18:34 - Feb 16
Hard luck to the Tractor Girls but well done on getting so far. Now to win the league

chrisswailes added 18:35 - Feb 16
@cat - maybe the day after someone killed themselves in part due to online bullying, people perhaps assumed some common sense would be applied. the players in all likelihood may be reading this and enjoying the extra coverage they had been getting. way to kick them when they’re already down.

cat added 18:57 - Feb 16
chrisswailes - Noted. But that’s a very unfair comparison.

SingBlue added 18:59 - Feb 16
Fair enough to dr earman, he’s obviously a keyboard warrior who is trying to get a rise, fair enough, everyone needs a hobby.....but blueboy trying to justify your comments is unbelievable- do you really think that? Don’t you remember the male version of your beloved team got beat 9-0 when it was professional team v professional team? But they came back stronger a few years later and even Soton got beat 9-1 this season and instead of taking your attitude turned it into a stepping stone to being very positive. You’re a very strange man (or boy?)

itfcjoe added 19:06 - Feb 16
Great run from the girls, shame they weren’t able to get a consolation to celebrate but just getting there will hopefully spur them on to win the league

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