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Tractor Girls Held By Pompey
Sunday, 9th Jan 2022 19:00 by Richard Woodward

Ipswich Town Women’s new year got off to a disappointing start as they were held to a 1-1 draw by mid-table Portsmouth at the Goldstar Ground. A goal from Natasha Thomas in the first half was cancelled out by the visitors after half-time.

The Blues were looking to bounce back after a 3-1 defeat at Oxford just prior to the Christmas break.

Manager Joe Sheehan made a trio of changes to his side; Lucy Egan missed out completely, whilst Abbie Lafayette and Sarah Brasero-Carreira dropped to the bench. Eloise King, Maddie Biggs and Thomas all returned to the starting line-up.
After a scrappy opening 10 minutes, the home side eventually forged the first meaningful effort on goal. Summer Hughes’s whipped cross fell nicely for Thomas to spin and hit. A combination of Pompey goalkeeper Hannah Haughton and the post prevented Town taking the lead.
The direct running of Anna Grey and Hughes from full-back was the best outlet for the hosts, not least when on 20 minutes Hughes again tricked her way into a crossing position down the right. Her delivery was aimed at Thomas, but the ball was cleared out to Eloise King, whose speculative effort flew over the bar.
On 26 minutes though Town got themselves in front, thanks to the endeavour of King. A Bonnie Horwood corner was partially cleared to the edge of the area where the on-rushing Blues’ number 10 nipped in. After beating two Pompey defenders, she fired in a dangerous cross for Thomas, who stooped in and headed low into the net.
The half played out with minimal goalmouth action after that, with Pompey’s physicality and counter-attacking threat causing Sheehan to shuffle his pack and send Horwood back into a more defensive role. This also permitted the dangerous Grey more licence to roam down the Town left.
After the break the Blues started with much more intensity, but again were let down by a lack of clear-cut chances. They would eventually relinquish the lead after a rare spell dominance by Portsmouth midway through the second half.
A string of free-kicks for needless or fussy fouls awarded by the fastidious referee were largely dealt with until the 68th minute. A firm dipping low free-kick from Tamsin de Bunsen was saved by the dependable Sarah Quantrill initially, but Pompey number 16 Evie Gane reacted the quickest to slam the loose ball home from close range.
Thomas will be disappointed to have spurned a gift-wrapped opening from the away side on 79 to prise the lead back. A roll-out from keeper Haughton was poorly controlled by the defence and Thomas was quick to pounce. Perhaps caught in two minds whether to round the keeper or dink over her - or surprised to be presented with such an opening - she eventually hit a low shot which was well saved by the on-rushing Portsmouth keeper.

The game would largely peter out after that, though Town did have two half chances from through balls into the pacy Zoe Barratt. The first had Pompey hearts in mouths, and the home crowd up in arms shouting for a penalty, after the Town winger was nudged by a defender running in on goal. The referee was unmoved, in part due to the Town number 14’s honesty in staying on her feet.
Ultimately this was a frustrating afternoon for Sheehan’s side. Perhaps a little rusty after an extended break, while also trying to shake off the disappointing defeat to Oxford.

Though presentable chances were at a premium, the home side may feel disappointed not to have taken all three points from what they did manage to create.

Portsmouth, however, were tough opponents, happy to make things difficult for the league leaders, with the odd foray forward to test the Blues’ backline on the counter.

Pompey’s South Coast rivals Southampton, whose game at Bridgwater United was postponed, will have been delighted with the afternoon’s events.

Town remain top of FA National League Southern Premier Division, six points ahead of Oxford United, who have a game in hand after their match away against the London Bees was called off, with the Saints third, another point further back but having played three fewer games than the Blues and with a superior goal difference.
The Tractor Girls will be hoping to rally at home again next week against Southern Premier basement club Hounslow.

Town: Quantrill, Hughes, Peake, Horwood (c), Smith, Grey, Robertson, King, Barratt, Biggs (Brasero-Carreira 72), Thomas. Unused: Meollo, Telford, A Jackson, Lafayette. Att: 367.

Photo: Ross Halls

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runningout added 12:26 - Jan 11
shows how much improvement made when we’re miffed with a draw. Pompey not a horrendous team

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