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Ipswich Town Women 5-0 Chatham Town - Match Report
Saturday, 23rd Mar 2024 17:15

Natasha Thomas scored twice and Sophie Peskett, Lenna Gunning-Williams and Summer Hughes once each as Ipswich Town Women thrashed Chatham Town 5-0 in their first ever league game at Portman Road, a result which relegates the Kent side from FAWNL Southern Premier Division. Thomas netted the historic opener in the 23rd minute, Peskett added the second on 32, before Bonnie Horwood saw a penalty saved. Town maintained their dominance in the second half with Thomas adding her second in the 58th minute, Gunning-Williams made it four three minutes later and Hughes completed the scoring on 72 in front of 10,173 fans.

Manager Joe Sheehan made one change from the team which lost 4-2 at Portsmouth a fortnight ago with Lucy O’Brien replacing Ruby Doe in midfield.

Midfielder Eloise King, who has been out since the end of last season due to a back injury, returned to the bench.

Chatham Town, second bottom without a win all season, were unable to play on-loan Town forward Holly Turner against her parent club.

The Blues, watched by 10,173 including men’s first-teamers Harry Clarke and Cameron Humphreys as well as assistant manager Martyn Pert, a new women’s club and divisional record, started on the front foot, O’Brien forcing Chatham keeper Simone Eligon into a sharp save with a shot from the edge of the box in the second minute.

From the resultant corner, the ball dropped to Evie Williams eight yards out but her effort wafted over.

Two minutes later, Eligon, who had had a busy start to the match, did well to thwart Town’s on-loan Tottenham forward Gunning-Williams after a left-sided corner had fallen to her at the near post.

The Blues continued to dominate and on eight, Thomas headed over at the near post from a right-wing corner.

The game was delayed as it approached the quarter-hour mark as O’Brien and visitors skipper Ylenia Priest clashed heads just inside the Chatham half. After lengthy treatment, O’Brien returned with a bandage, while Priest was replaced by Grace Coombs.

Soon after the restart, Horwood shot into Eligon’s arms from the edge of the box then moments later, Peskett struck an effort across the face of goal and wide.

Town should have taken the lead in the 19th minute when Peskett stood up a cross to the back post but Gunning-Williams nodded wide when she knows she should have netted the historic first goal.

But four minutes later, that goal finally came. Peskett played in Thomas on the left, the club’s all-time top scorer checked inside and feinted to be looking for a teammate but instead struck a shot from just inside the area which caught the inside of the top of Eligon’s right post before rippling the net.

It was Thomas’s 21st goal of the season and there could have been no more appropriate first scorer for the Tractor Girls at Portman Road.

Just before the half hour, O’Brien sent over a cross-shot from the right which Eligon palmed away for a corner.

And in the 32nd minute, Town doubled their lead. Peskett rode a couple of tackles as she took the ball into the area towards the right before hitting a shot across Eligon and into the corner of the net.

Three minutes later, it was almost 3-0. Peskett crossed from the right and the ball was knocked away from Gunning-Williams to Horwood, whose half-volley flew just wide.

On 38, Leah Mitchell rose highest at a corner from the right but was unable to direct the ball towards goal.

Seconds into eight minutes of injury time, Town were awarded a penalty. O’Brien, who had been a threat with her positive running with the ball all half, tried to take it to Coombs’s left and was tripped by the Chats sub. Referee Joanne Horwood pointed straight to the spot.

Town midfielder Horwood took the kick but was a little casual and Eligon was able to save away to her left.

Two minutes later, the Kent side seriously attacked for the first time, Otesha Charles cutting back from the right but found only Town defenders.

The Blues immediately went up the other end and Peskett shot across the face and wide from the right of the box.

Out of nothing, Chatham went close to pulling a goal back seven minutes into time added on, Ellie Jeffkins unleashing a shot from 30 yards which sailed over Town keeper Laura Hartley, largely a spectator up to that point, and crashed against the bar.

That was the last action of a half which aside from Chatham’s late chance had been dominated by the Blues, who ought to have been more than two goals in front.

Town started very positively and had had a number of chances before Thomas put the Blues in front.

The home side maintained their control having gone in front and it was little surprise when Peskett added to their lead. Town would have deserved the third goal had Horwood netted the penalty.

After a heavy half-time downpour, the Blues set about looking for further goals. On 51, left-back Hughes cut back to O’Brien, whose low first-time effort was too close to Eligon.

Three minutes later, a shot from the edge of the area from skipper Maria Boswell following a corner deflected wide.

On 56, Thomas probably should have netted her second of the game, Peskett chipping a cross into the box and the striker mistiming her header across the face and wide.

But two minutes later, she did score her second. Boswell played a long ball down the middle, Gunning-Williams knocked it away from Coombs towards Thomas, who took it inside the defender before rifling a shot home to score her 22nd goal of the season to make it 3-0.

Town’s third goal was the signal for Chatham to make a double change, swapping Jas Auguste and Ciara Hynes for Darcy Wells and Taylor Bell.

However, in the 61st minute, Town made it 4-0. Hughes brought the ball forward and played a low ball into Thomas’s feet inside the box and the striker laid it off to Gunning-Williams first time and the Spurs loanee shot across Eligon into the net.

Town made their first change on 64, the impressive O’Brien making way for on-loan Arsenal youngster Doe.

Two minutes later, Charles was sent away down the left, cut back inside Williams and smashed a shot which hit both bar and post before falling to sub Bell, who failed to find the target.

Williams headed over from a Town corner in the 68th minute before Chatham made another two changes, Lottie Sharp and Jeffkins making way for Chiedza Madamombe and Zoe Smith.

But the Town goals continued coming. On 72, Peskett crossed low from the right and Karisha Iton was only able to clear to Hughes, who slammed home the fifth as she broke into the area.

Two minutes later, the Blues swapped Mitchell for Maisy Barker, then on 78 they made a double change with Issy Bryant and sub keeper Nina Meollo replacing Gunning-Williams and Hartley.

Soon after coming on, Meollo, who has spent much of the season on loan at Cambridge City, watched an Iton 25-yard shot loop wide after a corner had been cleared.

On 84, Iton was shown the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Peskett as the Blues right winger burst towards the area. Horwood hit the free-kick, which was from almost 30 yards, straight at the wall.

A minute later, Thomas headed straight at Eligon, then on 89 Town replaced Horwood with King, a dyed in the wool Town fan, making her comeback from a back injury which has kept her out of action all season.

The Blues kept pushing for further goals until the whistle which was greeted by a roar, before the team and manager Sheehan made their way around the pitch to applaud their supporters.

Striker Thomas was perhaps the star of the show with her two goals, while O’Brien and Peskett caused the Chatham defence no end of problems throughout and Gunning-Williams was also a threat.

Those watching the Tractor Girls, who remain fifth in the table, for the first time will have come away impressed with what they saw with the Blues dominating throughout, playing a similar brand of attacking football to the men’s team.

They return to action at Rugby Borough next Sunday with Milton Keynes Dons at the AGL Arena the following week.

Town: Hartley (Meollo 78), Mitchell (Barker 74), Boswell (c), Williams, Hughes, Robertson, Horwood (King 89), Peskett, O’Brien (Doe 64), Gunning-Williams (Bryant 78), Thomas.

Chatham: Eligon, Hynes (Bell 57), Leitch, Priest (c) (Coombs 17), Jeffkins (Smith 68), Charles, Auguste (Wells 57), Taylor, Jackson, Iton, Sharp (Madamombe 68). Referee: Joanne Horwood (Hertfordshire). Att: 10,173 (Chatham: 28).

Photo: Matchday Images

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Ryorry added 17:37 - Mar 23
Cracking stuff by the players & coaches. Well done to the Club & Town TV for organising this at PR, and last but not least, thanks Phil for the match report as well as publicising the fixture in advance

ArnieM added 17:38 - Mar 23
Over 10k fans - brilliant and it’ll be a day the Town ladies will remember. Good on em, and like a true Town side, we win in style.

Swailsey added 17:43 - Mar 23
Cracking game and day. Some lovely goals and it’s clear the style of football at Ipswich runs through all our teams.

Flight_of_Shefki added 18:20 - Mar 23
Absolutely loved watching the girls play today from SBR 5. You could see how special it was for them to celebrate their goals and victory today in front of 10K fans, and there's real humility and passion with that.

BA playing their part in keeping the atmosphere going too - so props to them as it makes such a difference.

A real pukka day today, up the towen!

RobsonWark added 18:24 - Mar 23
Almost as many fans today watching the women's game as fans watching Town when McCarthy was manager - that says a LOT. I was there today, part of history for ITFC women's football team. Congratulations on a great win in front of a new record crowd for you.

ronnyd added 18:30 - Mar 23
RobsonWark..... I was thinking the exact thing lol . How things have changed.

Michael101 added 18:48 - Mar 23
Robson walk ,the difference between today's crowd and when mad Mick was in. Charge is that today everyone stayed awake

Mark added 19:04 - Mar 23
A fantastic occasion for Ipswich Women's young side. Let's hope we can add some players in the summer to enable the team to win the title next season, promotion to the Championship would be brilliant.

Steelmonkey added 22:40 - Mar 23
Well I’ve never watched a women’s game live before and have to say I was impressed.
Pleased to have seen their first game at PR.

Edmundo added 09:50 - Mar 24
Town women looked impressive (my first women's game aside from watching the Lionesses) against poor opposition. Glad to say me and the kids want to see more: hopefully against more competitive opposition.

ArnieM added 11:09 - Mar 24
Yesterday, was a watershed moment for Ipswich Town Ladies, and for this Club. This team has been stuffing sides left right and centre for sometime now. For them to finally be given the chance / right to play at Portman Rd like their male counter parts was only the right thing to do, but so richly deserved.

Thank you Mark Ashton and ITFC for facilitating this, and what a performance yet again by those Tractor Girls. Our Ladies team / squad will continue to grow , and what a statement from ITFC if these games at PR became a regular event. Please make this happen Mr Ashton!

Europablue added 14:09 - Mar 25
I'm not too interested in women's football (partly because there is not enough time in the day), but of course they should get as much exposure as people are interested in. I don't understand why there isn't more access to their matches. Why aren't these matches on Town TV? Is it because they are worried about lower attendances? It's difficult to encourage long-term support with a one-off event if it isn't capitalized on.

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