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Thomas Nets Four as Tractor Girls Thrash Cheltenham
Sunday, 24th Sep 2023 17:00 by Matt Makin

Ipswich Town Women’s impressive start to the season continued this afternoon, the Tractor Girls extending their winning home run with an 8-0 demolition of Cheltenham Town Ladies at the AGL Arena in Felixstowe in which striker Natasha Thomas netted four times.

Town manager Joe Sheehan made two changes to the side that had comprehensively dispatched London Bees 5-0 last week with Poppy Soper returning between the sticks following her concussion and Leah Mitchell stepping in for Megan Wearing, who was away on international duty with Scotland U19s. Nia Evans and Erin Williams returned to the squad, with forward Holly Turner missing out.

Town forced some early chances with the visitors forced to hack the ball away from Lenna Gunning-Williams five minutes after kick-off.

A few minutes later, the Blues won their first corner of the game, which was claimed by Cheltenham keeper Aimee Watson, although there were some half-hearted appeals that she’d carried the ball over the line.

A minute later, skipper Bonnie Horwood let fly for the edge of the box but Watson was able to hold the ball.

Cheltenham had started the game defending high up the pitch and frustrating the home side with the first quarter of an hour not reaching the same intensity of the early stages of previous games this season.

On 16, Peskett was bundled over in the box but the referee waved away Town’s appeals for a penalty. Immediately after, Gunning-Williams created a cross with a solo effort down the left, but there were no blue shirts in the area to get on the ball.

In the 27th minute, Town broke the deadlock and opened the scoring after Cheltenham failed to adequately deal with another corner, the ball eventually falling to Horwood who swung the ball in for Thomas to swivel and slam home at the far post.

Five minutes later, Town forced another opportunity from a corner with Mitchell almost heading home at the far post and Doe’s audacious follow up overhead kick being saved by Watson.

Cheltenham started to tire as the half wore on and on 38 Town doubled their lead through Thomas, the striker powering home a header from a Sophie Peskett cross for her second goal.

Ipswich’s tails were up and three minutes later Peskett shot over from the edge of the box after a good Town press.

As the half entered time added on, Cheltenham almost had a route back into the game after Mitchell’s weak pass across the box was intercepted, Soper forcing the ball out for a corner. The visitors were adamant they had the ball in the net from the resulting set piece, but the referee was unmoved.

Town were straight out of the blocks in the second half, doubling their score in the first three minutes, Doe setting up Gunning-Williams on 47 before scoring herself a minute later to make it 4-0.

Peskett went close twice immediately from the restart and then almost set up Gunning-Williams for her second goal.

On 56 Mitchell was robbed of the ball near the halfway line but Cheltenham could only shoot wide from the resulting attack.

Sheehan made his first substitution on 63, Maisy Barker making way for Evie Williams, with another change coming five minutes later when Lucy O’Brien replaced Doe.

O’Brien was in the thick of the action almost immediately and on 71 set up Thomas to complete her hat-trick, putting her through one on one with Watson to calmly smash home.

Seven minutes later, Town had their sixth goal, Peskett carrying the ball through the middle of the park before hitting a low and powerful shot from the edge of the box to nestle in the bottom left corner. A minute later, Sheehan made his final changes, Evans and Erin Williams replacing Horwood and Peskett.

Town continued to attack and on 85 made it 7-0, Summer Hughes chipping the ball into the box for Thomas to rifle home for her fourth goal of the match.

Cheltenham had a rare foray forward not long after which Soper was able to easily claim, and on 90+1 Town scored their eight and final goal, Evans tapping into an empty net after Watson could only parry Gunning-Williams’s initial effort.

After enduring Cheltenham’s high press for the first 35 minutes, Ipswich ruthlessly dominated the game once the visitors tired and repeatedly punished gaps in the defensive line.

Midfielder Kyra Robertson put in an excellent shift in the middle of the pitch alongside Horwood, breaking up play and distributing the ball well, but all eyes were on record goalscorer Thomas, who put in another excellent all-round performance to claim the match ball and take her running total to 11 goals in seven games this season.

The result sees Town remain second in the league behind Hashtag United but with a vastly superior goal difference, only fourth placed Portsmouth having a better record so far.

Cheltenham Town Ladies will return to the AGL Arena next Sunday to face Ipswich Town Women in the first round proper of the FAWNL Cup, before the Tractor Girls travel to Court Place Farm on Sunday 8th October to take on Oxford United.

Town: Soper, Barker (Evie Williams 63), Boswell, Mitchell, Hughes, Horwood (Evans 79), Robertson, Peskett (Erin Williams 79), Doe (O’Brien 68), Gunning-Williams, Thomas. Unused Sub: Hartley. Att: 541.

Photo: Ross Halls

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MK1 added 17:26 - Sep 24
What a fantastic result. The winning mentality of this club is phenomenal. Well done Ladies.

thatbdude added 18:19 - Sep 24
What a win. Have a feeling we'll go up this season

dangerous30 added 22:16 - Sep 24
Makes a great weekend when both the men and ladies win

Runner added 13:18 - Sep 25
I Don't know, Newcastle United beat Sheffield United and it is all over BBC1 on Sunday night, Ipswich do the same, score the same amount & nothing anywhere.

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