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Tractor Girls Lose Out to Pompey Again
Sunday, 4th Feb 2024 19:12 by Matt Makin

A superb second-minute strike from Leeta Rutherford condemned Ipswich Town Women to a 1-0 defeat at the AGL Arena in Felixstowe this afternoon, the Tractor Girls’ second loss to Pompey after last week’s FAWNL League Cup encounter.

Tractor Girls manager Joe Sheehan made three changes from the side that had lost 2-1 to Portsmouth in extra-time last Sunday with Sophie Peskett, Ruby Doe and Lenna Gunning-Williams replacing Maisie Barker, Elkie Bowyer and Lucy O’Brien.

Bowyer and O’Brien were named on the bench and Barker dropped out of the squad, having sustained an ankle injury during last week’s game.

The visitors started with high intensity and rewarded almost immediately with a goal two minutes into the match. Rutherford found herself in possession on the edge of the box and struck the ball to swerve it past Town goalkeeper Poppy Soper and into the net.

Ipswich responded well to the early setback and pressed Portsmouth in search of a quick equaliser. On nine, Peskett won the ball in a dangerous position, drove to the right and let fly a lofted shot, which Pompey goalkeeper Hannah Haughton was able to comfortably hold.

On 18, Town striker Natasha Thomas was able to put in a dangerous cross from the right which was only able to find Haughton.

Immediately after, there was a lengthy stop in play for Pompey defender Jazz Younger to receive treatment before being carried off the pitch by her teammates and replaced by Ali Hall.

In the 35th minute, Portsmouth played the ball into a promising position in the Town 18-yard area following a throw-in, but Soper was quick off her line to smother the threat.

A minute later, Town went close to bringing the score level from a free-kick. Skipper Maria Boswell whipped the ball in towards the back post but Gunning-Williams’s volley could only crash off the crossbar and go out for a goal-kick.

Portsmouth ended the first half strongly and on 41 Peskett was booked for a late challenge after stopping a Portsmouth break in the middle of the pitch.

The referee blew for the break several minutes later and although the home side had responded well to going behind early, decision-making in the final third had seen several promising encounters fizzle out.

Ipswich started the second half of the game the stronger side and dominated the ball for the opening period, with Doe seeing her headed effort saved on 54.

Five minutes later, Sheehan made his first substitutions with Doe and Gunning-Williams making way for O’Brien and Bowyer. Shortly after, Thomas found Peskett in space on the right but her tight-angled shot was easily saved by Haughton.

Town continued to press and on 61 Bonnie Horwood was able to play the ball to O’Brien in the box but the forward took one touch too many and the ball was cleared away before she could take a shot.

Two minutes later, Peskett looked to race on to a through ball from O’Brien but Haughton was able to get there first and clear the ball away.

On 68, there was a further stoppage in play for Haughton to receive treatment, the first of several stops during the second half for what appeared to be cramp-related issues.

Town faded during the last 20 minutes of the game and on 71 Portsmouth looked to double their lead on the break but Soper was again quick to react, sending Ipswich on a counter only for the visitors to comfortably defend in numbers in their own box.

Portsmouth looked the stronger side as the game moved towards its conclusion, forcing a succession of corners which caused the home defence some concern.

On 81 Sheehan made further changes, replacing Horwood and Leah Mitchell with Issy Bryant and Milly Boughton.

Town pushed for a late equaliser in the dying moments, but the only moment of note was a headed effort going wide deep into time added on.

Both teams will look back on the fixture as not their finest effort of the season with an early moment of quality from the visitors deciding what was otherwise a game of low-quality scoring opportunities.

The result sees Portsmouth remain top of the table with a game in hand over second-placed Hashtag United and increases the gap between top-spot and fifth-placed Ipswich to 14 points, albeit with the Tractor Girls having a game in hand.

The defeat all but ends Ipswich’s chances of promotion this season, the team needing to put on a run similar to the end of last season to stand any chance of overhauling the teams between them and Portsmouth at the summit of the table.

Ipswich Town Women return to league action next Sunday, travelling to Cheltenham Town, before returning to the AGL Arena on 18th February to take on MK Dons.

Town: Soper, Mitchell (Boughton 81), Boswell, Williams, Hughes, Robertson, Horwood (Bryant 81), Peskett, Doe (O’Brien 59), Gunning-Williams (Bowyer 59), Thomas. Unused: Hartley. Att: 458.

Photo: Ross Halls

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Edmundo added 16:38 - Feb 5
This seems like a season of transition. The new structure above the manager should mean better recruitment this Summer and a better promotion push next season. Still time to get some decent performances in this season, though.

bluelodgeblue added 20:49 - Feb 5
Want the ladies to do well but at the moment we seem to be going backwards? Hopefully the new structure will come up with the solution?

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