Brave Ipswich lose to golden goal
EHA Cup semi-finalBowdon Hightown 3 Ipswich 2 A brave Ipswich side exited the EHA Cup at the semi-final stage after taking the eventual winners of the competition to extra time.
EHA Cup semi-final
Bowdon Hightown 3 Ipswich 2
A brave Ipswich side exited the EHA Cup at the semi-final stage after taking the eventual winners of the competition to extra time.
Starting with a real purpose and desire Ipswich looked the better side, but it was not long before Bowdon started creating chances of their own. Ipswich's 21 year-old keeper Charlotte Lee-Smith was in top form though and kept the cup holders at bay.
Despite the good defending by Ipswich, Bowdon opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, Tina Cullen converting from a penalty corner. While Bowdon sensed a chance to extend their lead Ipswich held firm and, through some great play by Emma Lee-Smith and player of the season Jo Ellis, they began to open up the Bowdon defensive line.
Ipswich were unlucky not to draw level when Vic Sandall's superb reverse stick effort was saved by the keeper and Lucy Unwin put her inviting volley over the bar. The Suffolk team finally gained their reward though when Ellis converted a penalty corner just before the half time hooter.
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Bowdon struck an early blow after the break when Nicky O'Donnell scored in the 41st minute from another penalty corner. Cheered on by a large, mainly Bowdon supporting crowd the holders poured forward looking to kill off the game but Ipswich defended superbly. Millie Sharp made a spectacular diving clearance off the line, while Lee-Smith in goal was having the game of her life.
Having weathered the storm Ipswich began to turn the tide and with time running down it looked as if Lizzy Aldous had tied up the score when her shot across goal flew millimetres wide.
With only minutes on the clock it looked as if Ipswich's cup dream was over as Bowdon attempted to play out the final few minutes. However, proving their belief and determination Ipswich kept fighting for every ball and with 20 seconds left on the clock Aldous once more picked up the ball with the goal in her sights. Ironically her slight miss-hit wrong footed the Bowdon keeper and the ball crept over the line to spark mass celebrations in the Ipswich camp as the game moved into extra time golden goal.
Ipswich started extra time brightly, forcing an early short corner. As the routine broke down the ball fell to defender Kirsten Spencer and, for a split second, her full bloodied strike seemed to be heading for the back of the net, only for it to be deflected away from danger at the last second by a Bowdon stick.
Inspired by the let off, the holders pushed forward and only four superb reflex saves by Lee-Smith denied them the goal they so craved. With legs tiring the game was becoming stretched and Bowdon once more attacked in numbers. This time Ipswich could not survive and Charlotte Hartley pounced on a rebound to scramble the ball over the line and send the holders into the Cup final.