Sunday 7th November
Another venture into Suffolk this Sunday to watch a heavy weight clash as the top two in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division, Ipswich Town Women and Southampton FC Women both with a 100% winning start to the season meet for the 1st time this season drawn together in the 1st Round of the League Cup.
A fabulous start to the season for the pair who are newly promoted to the FAWNL Southern Premier Division, Ipswich Town Women making it 10 straight wins to start the season with a 5-0 away win away at Plymouth Argyle Women to open up a 9 point lead at the top of the table. Their young and upcoming talent getting alot of rave reviews from rival clubs as they began breaking into the first team. Gaining thier experience in the WSL academy league, looked strong in both the COVID affected seasons in FAWNL South East Division One and when the FA announced some upward movement for the 21/22 season Ipswich saw themselves promoted.
Youth very much remains the foundation of the side. With several England youth internationals amongst the squad. Have added two players to the squad with a wealth of experience playing in the FA WSL and Championship, goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill most recently with London Bees, so too midfielder Bonnie Horwood who I remember well as part of the Lincoln Ladies squad that got me hooked on women’s football in the first place. 38 goals scored in those 10 victories with just 3 goals conceded. Zoe Barrett and Natasha Thomas leading goal scorers with 6 each so far. Thomas moving past 100 goals for Ipswich now a tremendous achievement and has attracted interest from clubs playing in the Championship, Thomas though would like the be playing in the Championship with Ipswich which is very much the target. In recent seasons the club has worked hard to grow it’s fanbase and a number of Ipswich fan groups have become established aiding to promote the club. Have unfortunately lost their captain Blue Wilson for the season after she sustained an ACL injury earlier in the campaign.
The Championship too very much the ambition for Southampton FC Women. Many surprised that the club hasn’t already been accepted into the 2n tier of the women’s football pyramid though the earlier applications process with the Premiership club investing heavily into their women’s side. Like Ipswich strong in the FAWNL South West Division One during the COVID hit season’s was right for them to also be promoted to the Southern Premier Division. Matching Ipswich’s fantastic start winning 7 out of 7 so far recent postponements seeing them loose ground on the Suffolk side.
Ex-England Women’s assistant manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale is Head Coach, a strong playing squad has been assembled including Northern Irish internationals, Laura Rafferty and Ciara Watling, New Zealand striker, Katie Rood amongst others including captain Shannon Sievwright spent several seasons in the Southern Premier Division with local rivals Portsmouth and latest signing Alice Griffiths from Bridgwater United Women. Scoring 40 goals in the league so far whilst conceding just 1 in 7. Ella Pusey leading the goal scoring charts with 13 goals.
The Goldstar Ground the venue for today’s cup clash home to both Ipswich Town Women and Felixstowe & Walton FC. The stadium seeing alot of improvements in recent season a new clubhouse housing the changing facilities with a bar area and kitchen hatch serving hot and cold food and drinks a good variety too. A large seating area leading out to the large grass pitch. A good crowd in attendance early on testament to the lengths Ipswich have gone to to promote their women’s side. A bright sunny if chilly afternoon, a light breeze with some cloud around.
Ipswich Town Women starting XI – Sarah Quantrill, Paige Peake, Lucy Egan, Abbie Lafayette, Eva Hubbard, Summer Hughes, Kyra Robertson, Bonnie Horwood (C), Natasha Thomas, Eloise King & Maddie Biggs. Subs – Leonie Jackson, Maria Boswell, Lucy O’Brien, Zoe Barrett & Sarah Brasero-Carreira.
Southampton FC Women starting XI – Kayla Rendell, Milly Mott, Shelly Provan, Rosanna Parnell, Laura Rafferty, Shannon Sievwright, Phoebe Williams, Ciara Watling, Georgie Freeland, Alisha Ware & Ella Pusey. Subs – Sara Luce, Kirsty Whitton, Caitlin Morris, Lucia Kendell & Katie Rood.
It’s the hosts Ipswich to get the cup tie underway wearing blue shirts and socks with white shorts. Southampton line up opposite wearing red and white vertical striped shirts, black shorts and white socks. The ball played back into defence sent long upfield out to the left for Eva Hubbard to attack, the ball dealt with by Southampton full back Milly Mott out for a throw in. The ball quickly closed down in the middle fired up to Natasha Thomas 20 yards out left of the D heads it to the left into the path of Hubbard who takes it on to the by-line attempting to slide a cross in, Mott comes back on her sliding in to deflect the ball behind for a corner kick. Fired into the six yard box Southampton defend heading it back out to the left, the return cross blocked the visitors rush out to close Ipswich down forcing them to play it all the way back to their keeper.
Paige Peake winning the ball on the right for Ipswich sweeps a long diagonal ball infield up towards the top of the D, Laura Rafferty winning the header at the back for Southampton launching it clear. Southampton get the ball through on the left for Ela Pusey to go after, Peake sliding in to put the ball out for a throw in the corner dropped into Ciara Watlings feet the ball controlled put up towards the top of the area for Shelley Provan 25 yards out curls a shot in across the area the ball dropping onto the roof of the net.
A cagey opening both sides moving quickly against the other to close down the ball the midfield hotly contested, Phoebe Williams winning the tackle playing it on for Watling her squared ball looking for Pusey intercepted by Ipswich’s Lucy Egan. Fouls being conceded clumsy from Williams on Kyra Robertson in the circle. Abbie Lafayette to play the ball forwards, no one connecting top of the area the ball safely through to Southampton goalkeeper, Kayla Rendell.
Egan inside the box with a firm defensive header to clear for Ipswich as Mott plays a free-kick in from deep on the left. Is tense scrappy at times neither side wanting to give anything away attacking moves broken up before they can get going. Provan has space ahead of her as she calls for the ball off her goalkeeper taking it on down the left fires a dangerous diagonal ball into the box for Pusey to attack, Egan doing really well in defence up against her to clear for Ipswich.
Thomas looks to link up with Summer Hughes on the right for Ipswich, Robertson coming across offering support outside the box, Rosana Parnell stepping out of the back line to disrupt the attack for the visitors play compacted as both sides close in on the ball centrally. Hughes is played onto the ball attacking on the right driving forwards is forced wide by Provan out to the touchline does well to wriggle inside and put it into the centre for Maddie Biggs outside the D, taking the ball across the area only has one intent getting a half a yard of space to unleash a shot, does so connecting with the ball on the spin clips a rising shot wide of the far post.
Moving out to the left, Pusey looks to bring down Provan’s forward pass and spin behind Egan who has tracked across with her, the defender tugging her shirt brings Pusey down Southampton awarded the free-kick. Ipswich reset defending the ball into the area. The hosts attack on the left an good ball form Thomas fired in across the area, Biggs closing in beyond the far post stretching for it, Provan throwing herself into the block the ball deflected behind for a corner kick. The delivery from Horwood long beyond the far post cleared back out to the right Horwood to put back in Rafferty getting her head on the ball to defend before the loose ball inside the area is attacked, Southampton getting the free-kick to end the attack.
Pusey sweeps the ball out to Georgie Freeland running down the right for Southampton down the line her cross blocked by Lafayette, a throw in conceded, Southampton shifting the ball inside to lift a cross into the box can only find the head of Egan who sends it clear for Ipswich. It’s a little to intricate at times the two sides cancelling each other out at times as they try to pass there way through an often congested midfield.
Southampton captain Shannon Sievwright getting hold of the ball as she moves out to the left charging forwards runs into trouble the challenge taking the ball away from her is quickly regained by Alisha Ware behind her takes it on to the by line back up the pitch for Sievwright her angled cross flighted into the six yard box caught cleanly by Ipswich goalkeeper, Sarah Quantrill. The foul count is rising, niggly disruptive fouls rather that malicious though. The game fragmented with neither side finding a gap to exploit.
Hubbard up the line left side for Ipswich into the corner holds onto the ball as Mott comes to close her down doing well to win a corner kick. An inswinging ball in from the left, above head height inviting is plucked down well in her gloves by Rendell is a crowded six yard box. The ball played up to Pusey laid back for Mott on the flank in turn on for Freeland advancing down the wing, goes to cross early, Lafayette in turn out quickly to close her down and block. A pause in play as Biggs is down for Ipswich needing treatment a chance for both sets of coaches to relay instructions to their players.
Sievwright starting to drive on from the middle more looking to give Southampton further options in attack, her forwards pass cut out by Peake at the back for Ipswich. Horwood is covering alot of ground in the middle for Ipswich looking to win the ball break up Southampton’s play. The ball played into Robertson on through the middle for Hughes she drives on towards the area eventually stopped by Parnell. Williams into Pusey has Watling advancing on her right lays the ball forwards, Quantrill out to close her down the ball sliced away for a throw. Mott doing well as she spins inside, her cross though dropping behind the goal.
Pusey with a push in the back on Egan Ipswich with a free-kick inside the circle, Peake to play it forwards Thomas rising to try and head it on right of the D as Biggs breaks into the area, Rafferty clearing for Southampton the visitors with a quick break with Freeland on the right winning a corner kick. Played in under the bar Quantrill does well to get her fist on the ball punch it away clear on the right Horwood collecting played forwards won back lifted into the middle the Ipswich defence stepping out well catching Freeland offside.
Ipswich come on through the middle pushed into Thomas 25 yards out left channel her crossfield pass picking out Hughes on the right back inside for Horwood who in turn slides a great diagonal ball into the box for Biggs to attack far post, Mott doing great defensively for Southampton closing Biggs down to come away with the ball. A good passage of play from Ipswich. Hughes taking the ball on down the right back for Horwood central attempting the return ball into the area for Hughes, Provan gets across her to shield the ball out for a goalkick.
Ware on the the left working back to win possession for Southampton as the 1st half moves into 4 minutes added time. Horwood on for Robertson through the middle out to Biggs drifting left, Freeland across to make the challenge for the visitors. A late chance to take the lead in the first half as Southampton play a hopeful ball upfield allowed to bounce sees Egan under pressure right of the D as Pusey rushes in after the ball, Quantrill comes rushing out to the top of her area Pusey stretching her leg prodding the ball past the keeper as she and her defender collide, the ball rolling narrowly wide of the near post. Egan down needs treatment before she can continue.
Southampton ending the half strong Provan getting forwards on the left her cross deflected off Hughes to win a corner. The ball played up towards the top of the area intercepted by Lafayette, does get it away as Southampton lift it back high into the box, Peake getting her head on it to clear for Ipswich as the half-time whistle blows.
Half-time Ipswich Town Women 0-0 Southampton FC Women
Certainly a cagey affair almost like a game of chess at times with neither side willing to concede an inch of space to the other. Cancelling each other out the ball hotly contested especially in the middle Southampton happy to sit deep and defend leaving no room to run into that has probably limited the amount of players they can get forwards with pace on the counter. Fragmented with niggly fouls disrupting play a half of few chances and you’d expect as much with only 4 goals conceded so far between the pair. Neither goalkeeper called into action to make a save. How to unlock the door is a question I’m sure both coaches will be pondering at the break.
Ipswich making a change at half-time with King coming off to be replaced by Zoe Barrett. Southampton to get the 2nd half underway. Win an early free-kick in the middle, Players up into the box played forwards Parnell getting her head on the ball but not controlled as Ipswich clear. Biggs looks to break left for Ipswich into the box shifts inside, Rendell coming towards the ball able to claim low. Ware links up with Provan on the left for Southampton before crossing into the Ipswich area Peake winning the ball for the hosts. The 2nd half starting as the first finished neither side getting a foothold. Little room available on the flanks for Ipswich to take advantage off Mott and Provan giving little away.
Barrett left avoiding Provan’s sliding challenge gets hold of the ball shifting infield plays it central for Egan 25 yards out space opens up before her she sets her sights clipping a shot narrowly over the crossbar. Horwood continues to work hard covering the ground regaining possession inside the Southampton half on for Barrett her over the top ball cleared. Biggs out on the right with a shot on the angle 25 yards out sent wide across the six yard box.
Barrett has made an impact since coming on for Ipswich getting hold of the ball and looking to take players on left side receiving off Horwood in the middle powers her way to the by-line Mott getting back at her to put in the tackle regain possession bring it out from the back for Southampton. Into midfield Sievwright out to Pusey peeling away to the right, can’t get past Lafayette.
Ipswich enjoying a good spell on the ball getting forwards the ball coming through the middle, Southampton stretched, as Thomas looks to link with Robertson as they advance on the box, Robertson putting it into Thomas to her left, inside the box, Mott in with a firm tackle taking the ball away from Thomas across the top of the area, Parnell getting there just ahead of Robertson who goes down, leading to appeals for a penalty from the Ipswich fans gathered behind the goal, nothing doing a little bit of afters between Robertson and Parnell the Ipswich midfielder not happy continues her complaints leading to her being shown a yellow card by the referee.
Rafferty bringing the ball out from the back for Southampton out to Ware on on the left she gets her head down drives at the Ipswich defence, 3 players converging on her she is crowded off the ball. Sievwright over a free-kick in the middle of the Ipswich half clipped up into the box, Quantrill calls for it and claims comfortably. A change for both sides sees Ware come off for Lucia Kendell in attack for Southampton. Lucy O’Brien enters the field for Ipswich replacing Biggs.
Barrett getting hold of the ball left driving on does well to get in behind Mott pushing on towards the area, Parnell comes across well on the covers to tackle send the ball out for a throw in. Taken quickly worked inside top of the area the shot taken on the spin pulled wide of the near post. Is a good contest between Mott and Barrett as the Ipswich attacker pushes on down the left momentarily away Mott recovering quickly to get back on her to challenge for the ball, set up a counter, Williams to Pusey over halfway an ambitious effort bouncing wide of the goal.
Watling out on the left now with Kendell through the middle with Pusey, has possession on the flank good close control shifting left then right looking for a crossing opportunity closed down can only win her side a corner. Southampton have tried a few short corners throughout the game with little success, this one put up the line crossed in from deep, attacked, Quantrill though isn’t fazed as she gets up well to catch. Freeland shifting the ball inside 20 yards out shapes to shoot, Egan out to close her down putting in the block for Ipswich.
Ipswich away on the right Hughes with the ball into the box for Thomas central to attack, Mott up with her the pair coming together Thomas knocking the ball downwards towards the near post Rendell snatching it up into her gloves. Mott staying down needing treatment on an injured neck but is okay to continue. It continues to be a tense affair both sides still working hard to close the other down, Watling high on the left winning a throw, taken headed on across goal, retrieved out on the right a shot driven in low across the face of goal, taking a nick off an Ipswich player as a corner is awarded.
Freeland on the left has Kendell making a run ahead of her to the right knocked into her path Kendell attempts the back heel intending for Freeland to run onto it nip in behind the Ipswich defence into the box, a good idea… only Horwood reads it like a book and intercepts for Ipswich. Southampton with a corner on the right played long to the far post headed back across to the near side dropping down into the mix bodies everywhere the ball is scramble away. Very nearly an own goal from Ipswich as Southampton attack on the left Watling attempting the cross, Ipswich defending the head deflecting the ball up and away across the face of their goal has Quantrill scrambling across her line nudges it wide beyond the far post.
Southampton building some momentum in the final 3rd with a little under 15 minutes to play. Another corner on the right put long once again well past the far post the ball nodded down struck towards goal. Ipswich have the posts covered the defender on the right post rushing out to block the shot.
GOAL! The deadlock is broken in the 79th minute, as Southampton keep the ball up on the left Provan advancing into Kendell outside the area, left of the D isn’t closed down allowed to turn into a right foot strike and curl a wonderfully struck ball rising and curling across the diving Quantrill to find the top corner from 25 yards out 0-1.
Ipswich get straight on the attack from the restart, Robertson onto Thomas right side drives on with the ball into the box angles a ball into the six yard box the Southampton defence back tracking en masse Mott with the clearance. Mott getting up the pitch as Pusey sends the pass out to her on the wing, the ball deflected back to Freeland she strikes it in towards goal on the angle, Quantrill at full stretch getting up to tip the ball away from under her crossbar.
A double change for Ipswich as they break off Egan and Robertson for Maria Boswell and Sarah Brasero-Carreira. Southampton make a change in attack bringing off Pusey for Katie Rood.
No sooner has Quantrill made a brilliant save at one end then Rendell is called into action to do the same at the other. Brasero-Carreira with an immediate impact seeing the ball into her feet right side of the area 25 yards out strikes her shoot hard angling in towards goal looking sneak under the bar Rendell throw herself up getting a glove on the ball to tip it onto the roof of her net keep her side in front.
For a moment from the resulting corner everyone thought Ipswich hand equalised as the ball is attacked at the far post by Thomas a yard out, dropping down is just the wrong side of the post before being cleared another corner awarded however. This one defended well at the near post. Ipswich press on looking for a reply the clock ticking down Horwood out to Brasero-Carreira down the right wing whips a cross in along the top of the six yard box, Thomas jumping in the centre can’t quite get her head on it.
The game entering stoppage time, 4 minutes to be played. Southampton get the ball into Watling drifting inside from the left charging towards the area, Quantrill out to close her down does enough to put Watling off as she stabs the ball past her no power on the ball as the defence get back on the cover to clear the ball. Ipswich come right the ball in central to Barrett top of the six yard area under pressure from Mott, blazes her attempt over the bar.
Rendell is shown a yellow card late in the game for Southampton for time wasting. Lafayette too as she cynically takes out Freeland as she attempts to get by her on the right flank. Seconds left Horwood hasn’t stopped running plays the ball on for Brasero-Carreira 25 yards out central spins off her marker and lets fly, Rendell though moving across her goal can see it safely wide of her left post. The last of the action, a single goal settles it as Southampton advance in the FAWNL Cup.
Full time Ipswich Town Women 0-1 Southampton FC Women
Have to say there was a moment there where I thought this tie was going to all the way to a penalty shootout… and that would have been as hard to call as the final result. A single goal enough to settle it in the end and no surprise really. Can clearly see why these two are where they are at the top of the Southern Premier Division. Neither wanting to blink first as they met for the 1st time this season. A cagey affair, both sides cancelling each other out somewhat, not wanting to give the other an inch made it a bit fragmented and scrappy at times but nevertheless an intriguing contest. Both with chances to win the game the keepers both making an excellent save. Southampton probably wouldn’t have had too much to complain about if it had been them defeated by a single goal. As it was that all important strike belonged to them and it meant alot. The two sides meeting again in just a fortnights time in the league as Ipswich travel down to the South Coast.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. It’s another tough one to single out an individual players both sets of players putting everything into the game. Lucy Egan strong at the back for Ipswich whilst Bonnie Horwood was immense in the middle of the park getting about the pitch to disrupt Southampton’s play and win possession back. Georgie Freeland moving well on the flank coming inside to make herself available for Southampton. The visitors defending deep especially 1st half allowing no way through were solid, Rosana Parnell with a number of vital challenges, the award though goes to full back Milly Mott. Ipswich looking to get momentum on the left Southampton’s right back found herself with alot to deal with and throughout the game was equal to the task.
An enjoyable trip to The Goldstar ground a really impressive crowd of 619 in attendance for the match showing how well Ipswich Town Women have grown there fanbase no doubt inspired many in the process. Are the leading force by some distance for women’s football in Suffolk. Easy to see why both sides are where they are and where they want to be will no doubt continue to be an intense title battle throughout the season. A pleasure to see both in action.
by Darren Gilham