Sunday 7th May
FAWNL Southern Premier Division
Heading back into Suffolk this Sunday for to watch a HUGE match from the final day of the FAWNL Southern Premier Division. The top 3 separated by just a point! All with a chance to become champions with two of them going head to head with Ipswich Town Women in 3rd spot hosting leaders Oxford United WFC.
Watford FC Women in 2nd away to Billericay Town Women in their final fixture moved to be played at the same time as their rivals with the Ipswich/Oxford match rescheduled due to weather affecting the original fixture. Setting up a colossal final day in the league…
The scenario’s as follows, Oxford win and it’s simple they win the league. However a draw or defeat to Ipswich coupled with a victory for Watford will see them take top spot. Ipswich need to not only beat Oxford to win the league but count on Billericay doing them a favour and take at least a point from their game with Watford. A couple of hours of drama for sure, plenty of nerve around too, luckily I’m neutral… ish.
Whatever happens it’s been a thrilling season at the top of the FAWNL Southern Premier Division, top spot hotly contested and changing hands, Portsmouth FC Women too amongst the mix at the top before trailing in the closing weeks. Little separating the 3 sides too in their head to heads Oxford drawing at home 1-1 with both Watford and Ipswich. Ipswich with a 1-1 draw with Watford beating them at home by a single goal. Watford just 10 days ago coming from behind to beat Oxford 2-1 at Vicarage Road to ensure it would go down to the final day.
Oxford United WFC one of the original entrants into the new FAWSL 2, now the Championship, losing out when the new round of applications to the league were 2018. A blow have maintained the ambition to return to the 2nd tier as they regrouped in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division, 4th in the 2018/19 season before the Covid hit season’s took affect. A 2nd place finish last season behind Southampton FC Women, Liam Gilbert’s side pushing all the way to go one better this time around. Carly Johns leading goal scorer for Oxford with 20 for the season 2nd highest in the league one goal behind MK Dons Mollie Couper. With Leah Burrage netting 13 goals and Daisy McLachlan on 9.
Ipswich Town Women with high ambitions too aiming to reach the Championship themselves investing heavily in building a strong youth policy, playing in the FA WSL Academy league won promotion to the FAWNL Southern Premier Division last season where they went onto finish 3rd in their debut season at that level. Natasha Thomas in integral part of the side, has grown hugely as as player attracting interest form sides above. Loyal to Ipswich often amongst the goals has 12 for the current campaign one behind top scorers Anna Grey on 13. Need alot to go their way today to come out on top, but have to focus solely on their job 1st.
Ipswich Town Women playing their home match at Felixstowe & Walton FC’s, AGL Arena. The Ipswich fanbase getting right behind the women’s side in recent season’s to create a great following and lift attendances to the level they deserve. The Blue Army getting behind their team. The clubhouse leading into the ground the kitchen hatch serving hot food and drinks, a sweet shop, the bar open a good atmosphere with plenty arriving early. A good sized grass pitch with one small main stand and standing viewing all around. Oxford bringing good numbers with them too. The sun out too a warm day with a little cloud cover not much no chance of rain.
Ipswich Town Women starting XI – Sarah Quantrill, Summer Hughes, Abi Lafayette, Maria Boswell, Megan Wearing, Eloise King (C), Lucy O’Brien, Kyra Robertson, Freya Godfrey, Anna Grey & Sophie Peskett. Subs – Leah Mitchell, Bonnie Horwood, Sarah Brasero-Carriera, Natasha Thomas & Holly Turner.
Oxford United WFC starting XI – Rose Kite, Shelley Provan, Jaime Gotch, Riva Casley (C), Amy Goddard, Leah Burridge, Naomi Cole, Jenna Legg, Daisy McLachlan, Lacy Liggett & Carly Johns. Subs – Paris Sercombe, Sarah King, Taome Oliver, Iesha Swaby & Tash Stephens.
Flag bearers greeting the sides as they walk out onto the pitch, both sides naming 5 on the bench, with alot of firepower amongst them should they be required. Both Natasha Thomas and Holly Turned sided from Billericay Town Women early in the season amongst the subs for Ipswich, Tash Stephens on the bench for Oxford. Eloise King wearing the captain’s armband with regular first team captain Bonnie Horwood available on the bench too. 90 nervous minutes await both sides wanting the win, Ipswich needing a little help from Billericay too as they get the 1st half underway wearing blue coloured shirts with white shorts and blue socks, Oxford opposite wearing yellow shirts and socks with navy coloured shorts. The ball played back to Summer Hughes at right back for Ipswich the ball put inside to centre back Maria Boswell as Oxford rush to close the ball down put the hosts under pressure the ball cleared out to the left, Carly Johns racing in to put in the tackle comes away with the ball knocked inside Ipswich clear their lines.
Oxford looking to make a fast start get after the ball in the final 3rd Lacy Liggett nipping in to steal the ball 20 yards out right of the D pushed on into the box for Johns, Boswell lunging in to tackle sending the ball out for a throw in the corner. Liggett working hard to close the ball down for Oxford on the right of attack putting Abi Lafayette under pressure, Johns coming across in support, Ipswich forced back, Megan Wearing clearing the ball.
Sophie Peskett tracking back to help the defence looking to get hold of the ball drive inside is bundled over bashing her head on the ground, winning the free-kick needing a moment to recover, before being waved back on. Johns after the ball forcing Ipswich to play it back to their keeper, Sarah Quantrill’s kick out into the midfield won by Oxford’s Naomi Cole knocked down into Jenna Legg lines up a strike from 35 yards out central struck wide of the right post.
Liggett and Johns combining on the right attacking the ball getting down the flank the cross whipped in over the crossbar, the referee spotting a knick off an Ipswich player, corner given. The delivery played in long past the far post, Ipswich heading clear. Ipswich looking to counter, Lucy O’Brien picking the ball up travelling over halfway central looking to pick the pass for Freya Godfrey pulling into the right channel, Leah Burridge intercepting the pass for Oxford.
A good contest brewing Ipswich having dealt with the early pressure from Oxford looking to get the ball on through the middle, O’Brien showing some good footwork as she looks to manoeuvre her way through the middle. Cole busy for Oxford closing the ball down forwards into Johns marked by Boswell. The Ipswich centre back with a composed pass long to the left flank for Anna Grey to pull down and attack, held up by Oxford’s Jaime Gotch lays the ball back for Lafayette coming on her cross swung in towards the top of the D, cleared by Oxford’s Amy Goddard.
O’Brien taking the ball on for Ipswich is crowded off the ball as 4 Oxford players converge on her. Johns and Leggett looking a threat up top for Oxford, Lafayette getting amongst them to emerge with the ball lifts it central into O’Brien, looks to lift it over the top for Grey breaking in behind on the left, a close call the Oxford defence holding their line the offside flag raised against her. Ipswich winning a throw high on the left put into Godfrey’s feet looks to turn into the area, Gotch tackling to win the ball back for the visitors.
Gotch called into action again for Oxford at left back as Godfrey looks to put Grey in behind the ball cleared into midfield, competitive a little tense, King playing the ball out to the right as Ipswich press forward down the wing get themselves a corner kick. A high ball in towards the top of the area, Oxford captain Riva Casley rising highest to head the ball clear.
Liggett hustling after the ball right flank winning her side a throw high, comes into Johns who sends the ball across the top of the Ipswich area Daisy McLachlan after it left of the D, O’Brien back to defend for Ipswich. A chance for Oxford as Gotch wins the ball high on the right to send it infield for McLachlan who turns it on into the box for Johns breaking inside right of goal closing down the keeper, Quantrill stays big as Johns shoots an excellent save beating the ball away to the right with her glove , Johns racing after it wide of goal puts the cross in straight into the keepers gloves.
Liggett with a talking too from the referee as she pulls Lafayette’s shirt as the full back looks to get on for Ipswich over half way. The free-kick out to the right Oxford have everyone set defend their lines. King playing the pass on for Grey out on the left pushing forwards cuts it back inside for O’Brien, who in turn attempts to put the return pass over the top for Grey stealing into the box, Goddard cutting it out well for Oxford heading clear. Gotch bursting forwards for Oxford on the right, forcing Grey to track all the way back to defend, does well to win the ball the hosts unable to capitalise.
Half an hour played, Oxford having the better of the 1st half so far pressing the ball high creating chances, Grey out on the left looking the best outlet for Ipswich in attack, Lafayette getting the ball forwards for her to chase, Casley getting across her path shielding the ball out for a goal kick. McLachlan taking the ball on through the middle for Oxford sending it on for Johns in attack, Wearing sliding in with a great tackle on the striker outside the box for Ipswich to get possession back for the hosts.
Wearing down after a challenge from Johns moments later, needs treatment but is fine to play on. Legg winning the ball in the middle for Oxford sending the ball on the pass a little too heavy for Johns to run onto. Burridge taking a knock on the head as she goes into challenge Grey for the ball. Treatment required but okay both sides take on fluids. Off the drop ball from Cole up to Johns, Liggett looks to get away up the right, Lafayette getting back on her to defend for Ipswich.
Oxford appeal wanting the penalty as the ball is played forwards by Liggett for Johns o attack right channel, Wearing up with her Quantrill racing out to the edge of her box sliding in all three come together Johns tumbling over the goalkeeper, the appeals though waved away. Johns stays down for Oxford taking a heavy blow able to play on after treatment. Legg lining up another crack at goal form distance for Oxford central this time blasting her strike wide of the left post.
Ipswich getting a set-piece out on the right wide, Lafayette on it played short for Sophie Peskett drives forwards, Oxford closing with numbers to crowd the attacker off the ball. Ipswich winning the ball high up the pitch Kyra Robertson looking to play the one two with Grey through the middle, the move doesn’t quite come off as Casley gets in the way to clear for Oxford. Ipswich not quite finding their range in the final 3rd Oxford’s defence keeping a good shape, Cole and Burridge back to offer protection.
The clock ticking down in the 1st half Ipswich battling for the ball central O’Brien inside for Robertson, Cole getting in the challenge, Robertson coming back at her to regain possession played out to Summer Hughes getting forwards on the right her cross swung in along the top of the area cleared, Ipswich press to get the ball back win a free-kick wide right 30 yards out. Lafayette across to take it, strikes the ball hard and low into the area struck wide of the near post.
Half-time Ipswich Town Women 0-0 Oxford United WFC
Goalless at the break, Oxford making the brighter start looking to get after the Ipswich defence pressing high forcing a few errors have created a few chances, Johns put through one on one with the keeper, Quantrill producing a fine save. Ipswich a little tense haven’t put the opposition defence under as much pressure the final ball not quite there. A few nerves around no doubt and with the news that Watford are leading 3-0 at the break in the other game the current score line doesn’t help either side. Oxford have to win will that create opportunities for Ipswich to exploit?
No changes for either side at the break as Oxford get the 2nd half underway, Ipswich into their opponents straight away pressing the ball Robertson winning the ball central out to Peskett right, Hughes getting on in support the ball crossed into Godfrey right of the D, Provan tackling for Oxford. Peskett getting a foot in to take the ball right side sending it infield to O’Brien, Cole closing her down to regain possession for the visitors.
Ipswich strong at the start of the 2nd half pushing up winning a corner on the left as Burridge cuts out Grey’s cross, turned behind. A vicious inswinging delivery, Oxford goalkeeper, Rose Kite who didn’t have alot to do in the 1st half getting up well under pressure from Peskett to punch the ball away to the right. Peskett and the goalkeeper looking to square up after quickly broken up by their teammates. Ipswich getting a corner on the right send in near side low runners coming in turned goalwards rising Kite getting a fist on the ball to turn it up over the bar.
Ipswich playing positively at the start of the 2nd half Peskett and Robertson getting up to support the attack, Peskett fouled on the right outside the area, Lafayette across to take swung into the area headed clear behind for a corner by Liggett for Oxford. On the right the delivery out to the top of the area headed clear by Casley. Oxford penned back inside their own half, Grey taking the ball on left side sending a cross long through the six yard box, retrieved by Peskett on the right, battles her way inside, eventually sending in a low cross to the near post scooped up by Kite.
Legg fouled in the middle for Oxford a chance to get the ball up into the Ipswich box, Quantrill comes doesn’t get hold of it out away to the left of goal, no one close enough to get after it as the Ipswich defence clear. Ipswich buoyed on by the home crowd getting on well down the flanks Grey on the left seeing her near post cross headed away to safety by Goddard. Oxford have possession with Cole on the ball central plays the ball out to Burridge helped onto Johns up top, passes to McLachlan out wide left cuts back inside 25 yard out to curl a shot in towards goal, saved well by Quantrill. An hour played.
GOAL! Ipswich hit Oxford on the counter, Grey winning the ball on the left sending it on into the path of Godfrey, turns on the afterburners racing on towards the box, Casley giving chase, as Kite comes rushing out to close down the angle sliding in Godfrey shoots sending the ball under the keeper to race on into the empty net beyond 1-0! Godfrey mobbed by her teammates in celebration.
A mountain for Oxford to climb now conceding a goal needing a victory to win the title. Ipswich capitalising on their fantastic start to the 2nd half. The visitors looking for a quick response play Johns in down the right does well to win a corner kick. Cole playing in a low ball, cleared back to her on the right coming inside the box lifting a cross in central, Liggett attacking the ball sends it over.
Oxford making their first change on 64 minutes bringing on Tash Stephens for Liggett in attack. The game is stretched as Oxford look to get a goal back, the game opening up will favour Ipswich. Provan getting back well to tackle Peskett on the right as she looks to take the ball on. McLachlan bringing the ball down well for Oxford sends in over the top for Johns to race after central in behind the defence, Quantrill comes racing out to the top of her area to slide in and claim the ball first. Oxford making a 2nd change with Cole taken off, Taome Oliver sent on.
Hughes tackling McLachlan as the ball in cleared out to the Oxford wide player on the left. The visitors winning a free-kick wide left. Sent in high towards the top of the are and cleared by the Ipswich defence, the Oxford bench leap up appealing for handball but nothing doing. Ipswich making their first change King coming off handing the armband over to Bonnie Horwood stepping onto the pitch with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Oxford fighting for the ball wanting to get on the attack, Ipswich matching that commitment, Oliver left side pushed on into Johns back to goal sees the ball into her feet and turns to drive forwards held up well by Ipswich’s Wearing, plays the ball out wide to Oliver advancing down the line from the angle curls the ball in towards goal claimed high by Quantrill. McLachlan with a forceful run on the ball down the left sending a long diagonal ball into the box for Stephens wide of the far post looking to get it down under control, Lafayette is quickly in to close her down clear the ball.
Ipswich making their 2nd change bring off the goal scorer, Godfrey replaced by Natasha Thomas. Oxford out on the right forcing a corner, send 9 up into the box the ball curled in across the six yard box Goddard rising sends her header over the crossbar!
Johns coming off for Oxford with Iesha Swaby coming on. McLachlan advancing on the left her cross cut out by Horwood inside the area. Peskett shows good strength and footwork with the ball as she looks to keep hold of the ball for Ipswich on the right, eventually fouled by Provan the Oxford defend receiving the first yellow card of the game. The free-kick to the right put into the box by Lafayette caught on the bounce by Kite at her right post. The game end to end as Oxford look to get forwards taking a few risks at the back have to go for it with the clock running down, no change in the score in the other game. Casley hauls down Thomas earning herself a yellow card.
Horwood winning the ball for Ipswich up for Peskett out right has Thomas ahead of her in attack fed the ball, Provan challenging for Oxford. Tomas getting clear on the right sending a cross along to the far post the defender marking Grey slipping, the attacker putting her attempt over. Oxford bring on Sarah King for Provan with just 5 minutes left to play as they look to throw everything forwards. Ipswich bringing on Holly Turner for Peskett up top.
Grey with the ball left racing on sending a low cross angling into the six yard box, Casley throwing a leg out just about getting there to take it away behind Thomas running in central to attack the goal. Ipswich have the ball just where Oxford don’t want it in their final 3rd winning a corner, the ball whipped in deep falling to Wearing puts her header over the bar. Ipswich defend at the back launch the ball out to Grey left side sent inside for Turner 25 yards out, Casley stretching to intercept pushing the ball away runs out to Horwood charging forwards struck first time the ball swerving away off target.
Thomas and Turner doing a good job in the latter stages holding the ball up in attack eating up time. Turner strong with the ball at her feet on the right wide 25 yards out firing a strike over the bar. Ipswich finishing the game strong Oxford doing all they can to get the ball forwards, Boswell and Wearing both winning high balls for Ipswich. McLachlan taking the ball on left for Oxford rolled inside for Legg pushed on for Swaby, Boswell with a great block right of the D, the rebound struck over the crossbar.
Full time Ipswich Town Women 1-0 Oxford United WFC
The final whistle blows and Ipswich celebrate the win. A bittersweet victory with the news that Watford have won their game 3-0 and win the FAWNL Southern Premier Division on goal difference. Amazingly 4 of the 6 FAWNL Divisions being settled on goal difference this season! Ipswich with a 10th straight win ending on a high runners-up with a strong 2nd half performance taking the game to Oxford to create the opportunity to score 1-0 to the good were able to manage the game from there on in as oxford were forced to take more risks looking for a goal themselves the game opening up. Heartbreak for Oxford leading the table going into the day ultimately finishing 3rd. A strong campaign throughout fine margins settling it. A strong first half with some good opportunities, Ipswich improved 2nd getting the ball into their attackers to get on the front foot. A fine effort from both sides.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. This is a tough one a contest between two committed sides in a huge match both sides with some strong contenders all enjoying a strong spell during the match. Oxford getting on well at the start of the game the tome set by Lacy Liggett pressing the ball high on the right. Carly Johns too in attack making some forceful runs to get through on goal. Daisy McLachlan taking the ball on well, Leah Burridge winning the ball in midfield. For Ipswich the defence was under pressure early on Maria Boswell and Megan Wearing with some great tackles. Lucy O’Brien showing some great skill on the ball in the middle. Anna Grey getting the better of the defence 2nd half putting Godfrey through to score the goal. The award though goes to Sophie Peskett showed good skill and strength on the ball especially 2nd half to get amongst Oxford win the ball the maintain the pressure Ipswich were after in the 2nd half.
It’s not for want of trying but ironically this is my first game of the season from the Southern Premier Division, well worth the weight however. The weather’s to blame on the other occasions. An enjoyable trip to the AGL Arena a wonderful crowd of 844 in attendance. The end of the season rapidly approaching but hell of alot of football still to be played.
by Darren Gilham