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Ipswich Town Women 0-0 Gillingham Women - Match Report
Wednesday, 26th Jan 2022 23:53 by Richard Woodward

Ipswich Town Women were left frustrated as a determined Gillingham side celebrated a 0-0 shut-out at the Goldstar Ground.

Manager Joe Sheehan made three changes from the side that beat Keynsham 5-2 at the weekend. Lucy Egan, Anna Grey and Eloise King returned for Eva Hubbard, Lucy O’Brien and Kyra Robertson.
The well-drilled Kent outfit held a very high line and were pressing the Blues all over the pitch, forcing rare attacking openings when they could.

Ipswich meanwhile were happy to hold onto the ball, trying to exploit openings in the wide positions via Summer Hughes and Grey.
The first meaningful chance of the half fell to Town’s Maddie Biggs just before the quarter hour. The Town forward collected a pass from the enterprising Bonnie Horwood and hit a low shot which Gillingham keeper Cara Davies diverted wide, incorrectly leading to a goal kick.
The Town number nine would come close again seven minutes later. A pin-point ball from Paige Peake finally got the better of the Gillingham offside trap, but again Davies would deny Biggs dashing out and getting a hand to an effort hit underneath her.
The home side got frustrated as Gillingham dug in for the remainder of the first half, with the final ball around the opposition area more often than not falling their way.

Gillingham threatened to further upset their hosts when on 44 minutes Georgia Griffin tried a long-range effort which flew narrowly over the rarely tested Sarah Quantrill’s goal.
The Blues started the second half with more vigour and on 48 an advantage played for a clear foul on Natasha Thomas nearly saw Grey open the scoring. The Town number 11 took the ball forward down the left-hand side of the area and hit a firm shot across goal which arrowed agonisingly wide of the far post.
Cross after cross flew into the Gillingham box after that, but more often than not there was plenty of defensive cover to snuff out the danger.

The introduction of weekend hat-trick hero O’Brien and then later Robertson midway through the half attempted to provide more threat in the centre of the pitch.
Ultimately though, the ammunition for Biggs and Thomas was limited. Abbie Lafayette’s dangerous corners were stoically cleared with Gillingham bodies being put on the line to keep the Tractor Girls at bay.
With the match entering the final 15 minutes, keeper Davies was again the hero keeping out Thomas from close range after a neat flick from sub Zoe Barratt.

Four minutes later the Goldstar Ground in unison called for a penalty as Hughes burst into the area and was felled. The referee was unmoved as yet another Town appeal was waved away.

Moments later, Hughes again found space out wide but again the mass ranks of Gillingham prevented her cross being directed goalward.
As injury time ticked on, there was one more opportunity for the home side. Thomas collected the ball midway through the Gillingham half and headed for goal. As she reached the penalty area both her and her opposite number went to ground. Yet again there were shouts of a penalty from the home support, but unlike the previous incident this was more straightforward for the referee to deny.
As the full-time whistle sounded the away side celebrated gleefully at managing to prevent the league leaders from scoring.

Yet again this was another frustrating 90 minutes for the Tractor Girls, who never really found their rhythm thanks in large part due to the obstinateness of their opposition – in similar fashion to Portsmouth a few weeks ago.
It was harsh on the likes of Horwood and Hughes in particular, who were energetically trying to provide the team some momentum.

Elsewhere, third-placed Southampton thrashed Chichester & Selsey 8-0 at home to gain two points on the Blues with four games in hand and now a better goal difference. Oxford, who are second, weren’t in action this evening.

The Tractor Girls will hope fifth-placed Gillingham can provide a similar level of opposition when they face the Saints and U’s in consecutive weeks in late March.
Town now head up to Newcastle on Sunday for a fourth round FA Cup tie against the high-flying Magpies from the tier below.

Town: Quantrill, Hughes, Peake, Smith (Robertson), Egan, Grey, Horwood (c), Lafayette, King (O’Brien 60), Biggs (Barratt 73), Thomas. Unused: L Jackson, Hubbard.

Photo: Gemma Makin

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runningout added 10:01 - Jan 27
takes a bit more oomf in January… Onwards

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