Tractor Girls in FA Cup Action at Billericay
Saturday, 3rd Apr 2021 14:46
Ipswich Town Women’s boss Joe Sheehan says his side are determined to progress as far as they can in the FA Cup - in which they face Billericay away in the second round on Sunday (KO 2pm) - with their league season having been curtailed earlier this month.
The Tractor Girls suffered the disappointment of their FAWNL Division One South East campaign being ended early with them at the top of the table for the second year running.
Despite that, the Vitality Women’s FA Cup has been given the go-ahead to resume and the first-teamers were back at Playford Road to get themselves prepared for the trip to Essex earlier in the week with the younger players having been in for a couple of months.
The tournament was suspended in January due to the lockdown with the Tractor Girls having defeated Harlow Town 9-2 away in the first round.
Prior to that Town defeated Norwich City 3-1 away in the third qualifying round, having hammered Peterborough Northern Star 10-0 in the second at the Goldstar Ground, Felixstowe.
“Our seniors came back in on Monday,” Sheehan told the club site. “Our academy have been in for about eight weeks.
“We’re going into Sunday’s game with players who have only trained for a week or some who have a trained for a few weeks more.
“The situation we’re in is quite a challenging one because we’re wanting to minimise risk of injury to our senior players but we also recognise that some of our academy players are inexperienced. It’s a big game to try and find the right balance.
"We know that Billericay will be experienced, they’re really competitive at our level. It’s a challenging one for us in terms of our squad selection.
“We want to try and progress as far as we can in this competition to give our seniors every opportunity of being part of the next eight weeks of the season.
“If we lose then that’s our season finished from a competitive football aspect so we want to try and stay in for as long as we can.”
Town could still move up a league despite the season having been brought to an early end with the FA having given clubs the opportunity to apply to progress up a division.
"We went though a period where we wasn’t sure whether it might continue or might stop,” Sheehan added. “They came to the decision that they were going to curtail the season.
“Initially, that was obviously something we were disappointed with. There could be an opportunity for upward movement which would be something we’d involve ourselves in through an application to go up.
“We’re waiting for that the criteria to be sent out so we can apply for that. We obviously wanted to finish the season and play the games but we might still find ourselves in a position where we’ve got the desired outcome of promotion.
"The criteria will look at the last two seasons on results, your club structure and on-field performances.
“Looking at the last two years, there’s nobody that has pipped us from our division. We are in a really strong position, without taking it for granted.
“There will be a lot of clubs in our division who will also apply. I think it’s a win-win for everybody though because a lot of clubs will then fancy themselves next year if we are not in the division. It would certainly help everybody else.”
Sunday’s game at New Lodge is behind closed doors but Billericay are streaming it live on their YouTube account.
The winners of the tie will face Cardiff City or Oxford United away in round three the following weekend with a home tie against Charlton Athletic on Sunday 18th April awaiting the victors of that match.
Last season the Tractor Girls reached the fifth round of the FA Cup before being beaten away by eventual winners Manchester City, the first time a fourth tier club had done so and the first time the club had progressed so far in their history.
Meanwhile, the Tractor Girls’ U21s beat West Ham United 3-0 at Playford Road this afternoon in their first competitive match following their return to action. Maddie Biggs scored twice and Sara Smith-Walter added the other from a free-kick.
Photo: Action Images
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