Town ladies' losing run goes on

IPSWICH Town Women's losing streak continued as they crashed to a shock home defeat at the hands of rock bottom Enfield.Manager Sean Thacker is now searching for a massive improvement ahead of tomorrow's daunting clash with visiting league leaders and championship favourites Bristol Rovers.

IPSWICH Town Women's losing streak continued as they crashed to a shock home defeat at the hands of rock bottom Enfield.

Manager Sean Thacker is now searching for a massive improvement ahead of tomorrow's daunting clash with visiting league leaders and championship favourites Bristol Rovers.

Thacker's side – now without a win in their last nine league contests – threw away a two-goal lead en route to a 3-2 reverse against Enfield.

"Without playing that well we got into a 2-0 lead, but contrived to allow Enfield a way back into the game when we should have kept the ball and with our superior fitness and supposed better technique should have won at a canter," said Thacker.

"We keep talking about learning from our mistakes, but we are making the same careless mistakes game after game and are obviously not learning.

"The game should have been won in the first ten minutes, but we missed four great chances and yet again we gave away unbelievably bad goals.

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"This is going to be a long hard season trying to avoid relegation if we do not do the simple things that Enfield did, which was to stick to their tactics, defend properly, avoid making serious mistakes and take their chances.

"We have a really difficult run of fixtures coming up, when we are going to have to be at our best to pick up any points.

"It was pointed out by players that we tend to raise our game against the better teams, but the facts don't lie – we have not won a league game in nine matches since February and have had the opportunities to win every single one of these games. You need to have a winning mentality and this has clearly been lacking."

There seems sure to be changes to the Blues' line-up tomorrow as Leanne Parker is close to fitness again.

Thacker may also recall Stacey Balaam to his starting line-up. Lisa Culley and Kate Roofe are added to the squad, while Cristabel Nye and Nyssa Willis seem likely to drop down to the reserves to get some action after being unused substitutes against Enfield.

Fielding an unchanged team to the one that drew at Bristol City a week earlier, Town quickly got into their stride and should have sewn up the points in the opening eight minutes as they wasted four gilt-edged chances.

Holly Williams missed her kick in front of goal then Helen Bass and Angela Arnold both raced clear of the defence but finished weakly.

Arnold nearly made amends as she went close with a clever lob. But the contest began to even out with Enfield sending two efforts just wide.

The visiting keeper made a good block at the feet of Michelle Allum and Vicky Brackenbury sliced her shot wide before a two-goal burst put Town in charge.

A 35th minute short corner routine involving Penny Farrow and Shelley Pleasance ended with the latter flashing in a low drive that Arnold diverted into the net for her first Town goal.

Within two minutes Town went 2-0 up courtesy of a terrific team goal – a flowing move that began with Sarah Dooley in her own penalty area involved Arnold, Norma Ives and Allum before Ives made a driving run into the area and set up Farrow to add the finishing touch with a 12-yard drive.

But Ipswich's lead quickly disappeared as Enfield replied with a double strike of their own in the closing stages of the first half.

Casual play in Town's penalty area put keeper Faye Lunn under pressure and she miss-hit her clearance to Enfield's Emma Kayser who knocked the ball back into an empty net.

In first-half injury-time, Town's lead was wiped out amidst controversy when the referee awarded the visitors a penalty after Pleasance was ruled to have pushed Enfield's Kelly Townshend.

Jo McCluskey stepped up to equalise with the minimum of fuss.

Town took a while to get anything going in the second half and Enfield were looking increasingly like scoring with Lunn forced to make a good save.

Williams at last got Town going with a strong run but made a mess of a good chance, pulling her shot wide from close range and Allum also failed to hit the target from a good position.

As the game swung from end to end Lunn was forced to produce two flying saves to keep Town level. But after 79 minutes she was caught trying to pass the ball rather than clear the danger and Enfield substitute Catherine Bird intercepted and had the simple job of tapping the visitors ahead.

The closing stages of the game were frantic as Town searched for an equaliser with Allum seeing two efforts go close and from a series of corners Ives, Pleasance, Hannah Cook and substitute Stacey Balaam all may have done better.

Lunn tried to make amends with a point-blank save and Enfield also missed a glaring chance to increase the deficit.

The last chance to salvage a point came deep into a stoppage time as Bass forced a fantastic reflex save from Enfield keeper Jo Ayre before firing the rebound wildly over from six yards.

IPSWICH: Lunn, Cook, Dooley, Ives, Pleasance, Farrow, Arnold (Balaam 70), Williams, Bass, Brackenbury, Allum. Subs (not used): Nye, Willis.

STOWMARKET SophtLogic were punished when they turned in another lacklustre performance to lose 3-1 at Colchester.

Too many players seemed to believe they could live on last season's success – and need reminding that they are only as good as their last match.

Colchester's small pitch and often-hostile crowd were just poor excuses as too many Stowmarket players simply didn't work hard enough.

Stowmarket totally dominated the first half, with Sue Osbourne bundling in a Claire McClean free-kick to give them the lead.

Minutes later Deb Morley found herself in a good position but elected to shoot from a tight angle, rather than taking the more sensible option of passing.

Stow continued to play attacking football and an excellent move through midfield ended with Rachel Gwilliams firing just over the bar.

Then good build-up play saw Jo Welham on a run and let fly with a ferocious shot from outside the area, only to see the keeper tip it over.

Leading 1-0 at the break, Stow were unable to secure the game and Colchester raised their game in the second half, fighting for every ball.

It was not long before their spirited play pulled them level, but instead of rolling up their sleeves Stow stopped, heads dropped and players gave up.

The team created few second-half chances and seemed to be second to every ball. A shadow of the side that enjoyed so much success last term, they soon found themselves trailing 3-1.

Players received a stern ticking-off, leaving them in no doubt that a much-improved performance and a change of attitude will be required if they are going to challenge for the title this season.

Stowmarket play Hampton Ladies at home tomorrow – kick-off 2pm – but are up against it from the start with three defenders unavailable.