Town women earn shock win at Langford

WOMEN'S SOCCER: Langford 1 Ipswich Women 3. Fresh from their first away victory for over a year at Chelsea last weekend, Ipswich Town Women recorded the Premier League's surprise result with a 3-1 win at promotion hopefuls Langford on Sunday.


Langford 1 Ipswich Women 3

Fresh from their first away victory for over a year at Chelsea last weekend, Ipswich Town Women recorded the Premier League's surprise result with a 3-1 win at promotion hopefuls Langford on Sunday.

The result was made even more impressive considering that Town were down to 12 regular players, with untried Jo Millar and club physio Rachel Spanner making up the substitutes.

As if the odds were not stacked against them enough, Town conceded after only 13 minutes when Austrian international centre- back Ines Faustenhanmer headed home a corner to give Langford the lead.

However, Ipswich were only behind for two minutes as the recalled Michelle Allum intercepted a pass from the home defence and her pace took her clear before she coolly slipped her shot under the keeper to equalise.

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There were good chances for both teams to go ahead as a Langford snapshot went narrowly over and Cabey-Gooden in the Langford goal made an outstanding fingertip save to keep out Helen Bass' volley after great work from Allum and Angela Arnold.

Allum was causing the home defence all sorts of problems and was only denied a second goal by a debatable offside flag and had a good shout for a penalty waved away.

Thacker's defensive woes were made worse when influential centre-back Leanne Parker was forced to come off with a back injury and Lisa Culley entered the fray with Town reshuffling to a 3-5-2 formation.

The extra player in the midfield gave Town more bite in the middle of the park and denied Langford time on the ball.

The final minutes of the first half were full of action as Sarah Dooley deflected a shot just over the bar and from the corner, Bass headed off the line with keeper Faye Lunn beaten.

Less than a minute later Bass was the hero at the other end of the pitch as Culley's deft touch sent her clean through and she made no mistake with a slotted finish. There was still time for Bass to go clear again, but this time her shot lacked any power.

Town were a lot tighter in the second-half as they squeezed the play and began to dominate.

Penny Farrow's corner missed everybody and came back off the post. Minutes later the home keeper was at full stretch to tip Stacey Balaam's free-kick over the bar and Allum had a full-blooded drive blocked.

Langford were not creating too many chances by now, although hesitancy in the Town area led to Lunn blocking a close-range effort with her legs and an in-swinging corner landed on Town's bar.

The all-important third goal arrived on 59 minutes when Norma Ives sent Bass through again and this time the young forward drilled her left-foot shot into the far corner.

By now it was all Town. Ives nearly added a fourth but her mazy run, in which she beat four defenders, ended with her shot going inches wide of the far post Arnold could have scored against her old team, but her shot lacked power and Bass was close to her hat-trick with a flashing drive before turning provider for Allum who was denied by another reflex save from Cabey-Gooden.

Shelley Pleasance nearly sealed the victory in the perfect fashion, running with the ball from her own half to beat the offside trap, but she chipped her shot just wide of the post.

A delighted Sean Thacker could not hide his thoughts on his team's win after the game.

"Not many people gave us a chance of winning today, particularly with key players injured or back at university, but I always felt we had the pace to cause their defence problems and it was just a case of winning the ball and giving the forwards the right service.

"Once Leanne had to go off, I was down to the bare bones at the back so we tightened up the midfield and squeezed the space. This stopped Langford playing and gave us the base to launch attacks from and we created a number of chances.

"The quality of the three finishes were of the highest order, but we made a number of other good chances and only the quality of their keeper and our eagerness to run offside kept the score to three.

"It makes a nice change to relax on a Sunday evening and actually enjoy my roast dinner."

He continued: "It is difficult to single out one outstanding performance. It was a great team effort, which was best summed up by Stacey (Balaam), ignoring illness and carrying on when she probably should have come off and complementing her passing and dribbling with a disciplined midfield performance and even a spell as an emergency defender."

Ipswich women: Lunn, Dooley, Parker (Culley 33), Ives, Pleasance, Farrow, Arnold (Millar 88), Williams, Balaam, Allum, Bass. Unused substitute: Spanner.