Balaam and Allum sink Chelsea
Chelsea 1 Ipswich Women 2: KNOWING only a win would be enough to kick-start what had been a poor opening to the season, Ipswich travelled to Chelsea low in confidence but in determined mood.
Chelsea 1 Ipswich Women 2
KNOWING only a win would be enough to kick-start what had been a poor opening to the season, Ipswich travelled to Chelsea low in confidence but in determined mood.
The game started scrappily on a tight pitch, with both sides finding it difficult to get hold of the ball, although Town created the better chances with Stacey Balaam and Angela Arnold finding some joy along the flanks.
This was becoming a pattern of play as the half progressed with Sarah Dooley often the instigator, finding the Chelsea defence wanting with balls in behind the home team's full-backs.
Helen Bass, Penny Farrow and Vicky Brackenbury all had efforts at goal as Ipswich began to take control midway through the half.
Balaam could consider herself unfortunate not to open the scoring, as an amazing dribble from the left flank saw her pass a handful of home defenders before hitting the far post with the goalkeeper well and truly beaten.
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However, Balaam deservedly gave the visitors the lead after 30 minutes when the best move of the game saw her tuck away a cross from Arnold, following a sequence which started at the back with Dooley and also involved Pleasance, Parker and Bass.
Chelsea came out in the second half in more aggressive mood following a poor first-half display, as they forced Town to defend in numbers and came close to getting behind the back-line on a couple of occasions.
Ipswich always looked capable of scoring on the break as the pace of Arnold often left Chelsea defenders wanting.
Balaam had another chance to net from a poor goalkeeping clearance following pressure from Bass. Town did eventually take a two-goal advantage after 70 minutes when Allum, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, was put through by Dooley and slotted past the keeper from the edge of the area.
Chelsea didn't lie down though and as has been typical of Town in recent matches they contrived to make hard work of their victory when a defensive mix-up allowed Chelsea a simple goal to reduce the lead.
There followed some frantic defending for the remainder of the match, including a ridiculous 15 minutes extra-time as the referee stopped his watch every time the ball went out for a throw-in.
Thanks to a great save by Faye Lunn Town claimed their first, and well deserved, victory of the season.
Team: Lunn, Dooley, Parker, Ives, Pleasance, Farrow, Arnold, Williams, Balaam, Brackenbury, Bass (Allum 75) Unused sub: Gregory
Development coach Greg Cooper said: "The team worked very hard as a unit in order to achieve the result, which we are all very pleased about.
"On a very small pitch which made playing the game difficult and after having to endure below standard pre-match facilities and preparation, this should give us a real boost for our re-arranged fixture away to Langford this coming Sunday.
"Chelsea were below their usual standard and this was a game that we should always have won, but credit must go to the girls as they were in determined mood right from the start and the fact that the conditions did not allow for attractive football may have produced a negative performance in the past.
"Leanne Parker was particularly impressive at the heart of the defence and I was very pleased with Angela Arnold, who really worked tirelessly for the team down the right flank.
"It was also pleasing to see Stacey Balaam fulfil some of her potential."