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Thomas Hits 150th For Town as Tractor Girls End Hashtag's Title Hopes
Sunday, 14th Apr 2024 17:29 by Matt Makin

Natasha Thomas hit her 150th goal for Ipswich Town Women as the Tractor Girls impressively defeated Hashtag United 2-0 at the AGL Arena to end the Essex side’s FAWNL Southern Premier Division title hopes.

Manager Joe Sheehan made two changes from the side that was victorious over MK Dons last week with Summer Hughes and Bonnie Horwood dropping to the bench and replaced by Ruby Doe and Leah Mitchell.

The game started brightly with Hashtag’s Sammy Rowlands volleying well over after two minutes of play. Two minutes later, Rowlands was almost through again following a throw-in, but Evie Williams was able to put her foot through the ball to clear.

On six, Maisy Barker looked to break into the visitors’ box but was brought down just outside the area by Sophie Kelly, who received the first booking of the game for her efforts. Maria Boswell’s subsequent free-kick was not initially held by Tags’ keeper Frankie Angel but was eventually cleared.

Town continued to dominate the early stages and on nine Sophie Peskett sent Barker through on the left, but her tight-angled shot could not beat Angel.

On 17 Town went close again, Boswell letting fly from outside the area only to see her shot headed over for a corner.

Three minutes later Gunning-Williams went down in the box but the referee remained stone-faced to the subsequent penalty appeals.

In the 25th-minute, Town goalkeeper Laura Hartley played an exquisite low ball down the pitch which evaded everyone to play Peskett in one-on-one with Angel, only to be pushed out wide and unable to get a shot away.

The Blues continued to ramp up the pressure and on 28 Gunning-Williams screwed her shot wide after storming through the Tags’ defence.

Three minutes later, Lucy O’Brien was able to play the ball into the box after another good passage of play from the home side, Gunning-Williams’s point-blank header being pushed away by Angel.

Town ended the half strongly and on 37 Boswell’s looping header from Williams’s free-kick was held by Angel, and three minutes later Gunning-Williams saw another effort on goal pushed out for a corner.

On 42, Barker shot wide from distance and as the half drew to a close Hashtag had a rare opportunity on goal, Rowlands’s shot being pushed wide by Hartley.

Ipswich had been the better side during the first 45 minutes, only missing the goal to reflect their efforts.

Town continued on the front foot after the restart, Gunning-Williams a persistent threat going forward with Hashtag creating only a few half-chances in the first five minutes.

On 54, a neat move saw Doe play Gunning-Williams into the box, but the Tottenham loanee was unable to get her shot away before the ball was nicked off her toes.

Two minutes later, Sophie Baigent was booked after bringing Boswell down on the edge of the Tags’ box with the subsequent free-kick on target but held by Angel.

On 62 Town came very close to opening the scoring. Gunning-Williams won the ball in the middle of the park and found Thomas out on the right, from where she was able to float the ball into the box to Peskett, whose half-volley was saved by Angel.

Hashtag were immediately up the other end of the pitch but Mitchell was able to clear the ball before any real danger was posed.

On 67 Tags were on the attack again but the threat was snuffed out by a vital tackle on the edge of the box from O’Brien.

Two minutes later, Ipswich were in front. Peskett won the ball in the centre circle and was able to drive forward to the byline, matched for pace by Malika Apindia, before cutting the ball back into the box for Thomas, who was able to slam home her 150th goal for the club.

Town almost doubled their lead from the restart, Boswell launching the ball forward into space for Peskett, who drove forward and shot just wide.

On 75 Hashtag won a free-kick on the edge of Ipswich’s box. Rowlands’s shot was tipped wide by Hartley for a corner, which was put wide. Four minutes later, Town had a corner themselves, which was headed wide by Doe.

Sheehan made the first change of the game in the 83rd minute, replacing Gunning-Williams with Issy Bryant. Three minutes later, Peskett saw a shot deflected for another corner, and from the set piece Thomas’s header was scooped off the line.

Two minutes from the scheduled end, Hashtag won another free-kick in a dangerous position, with Kyra Robertson booked for the foul. Rowlands again stepped up but despite clearing the wall, the ball went straight into Hartley’s hands.

Deep into injury time, Town doubled their lead to seal the win. Clearing the ball up high from a Tags’ corner, opposition goalkeeper Angel was caught out on the halfway line by Doe who was able to blaze forward and roll the ball into an empty net to make it 2-0.

The result reflected a quality performance from the home side, who dominated the game for large periods. Although profligate in the first half, a high-quality move for the first goal and alertness at the end of the game to catch Angel high up the pitch for the second ensured Ipswich walked away with all three points.

Hashtag’s defeat means that Portsmouth are crowned league champions and promoted to the Championship with the second-placed Essex outfit no longer able to catch Pompey before the end of the season.

Ipswich Town Women are back in action at the AGL Arena next week, taking on Cardiff City.

Town: Hartley, Mitchell, Boswell, Williams, Barker, Robertson, O’Brien, Gunning-Williams (Bryant 83), Doe, Peskett, Thomas. Unused: Meollo, Hughes, Horwood, King. Attendance: 492.

Photo: Ross Halls

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Millsey added 17:39 - Apr 14
Well played

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