Ipswich Town Ladies 2016/17 season review - a Suffolk Cup win and derby day joy are the highlights
- Credit: Archant
TOM MORTLOCK reflects on the season at Ipswich Town Ladies, which saw them retain the Suffolk Cup and thump rivals Norwich, but struggle in the league at times.
Ipswich Town Ladies will look back on their 2016/17 campaign with mixed emotions.
A ninth-place finish in the twelve-team FA WPL South East Division One represents a difficult year for the Blues in terms of league form, particularly given the fact that they managed to achieve fifth position last time around.
However, Town will be pleased with their results towards the end of the season, as they went four matches unbeaten in all competitions, including a 5-0 thumping of Lowestoft Town to retain the Suffolk FA Women’s Cup for a third consecutive year.
An entertaining 4-3 defeat away at AFC Wimbledon on the opening day back in August set the tone for Ipswich’s season. There has been no shortage of goals in the majority of Town’s games, although they have not often been shared equally.
Heavy defeats, such as a 6-0 loss to Gillingham and a 5-0 disappointment against Cambridge United, have hampered Town at key stages during the campaign and prevented them from producing consistent performances and results.
Nevertheless, the Blues have also displayed an effective eye for goal themselves.
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A 5-1 drubbing of local rivals Norwich City in early May provided a much-needed confidence boost, while Town have secured victory by a 3-2 margin on a number of occasions; twice against Lowestoft Town and once over Stevenage.
The final four games of Town’s season have undoubtedly been the most successful, as they remained unbeaten in the month of May.
Following the East Anglian derby win, Jade Henry and Sophie Welton strikes earned the three points at Actonians.
The league drew to a close with a 2-2 home draw against Denham United, but only after Ipswich had become Suffolk FA Women’s Cup champions once again.
The impressive cup run has been a shining light for Ralph Pruden’s team since they began their title defence with a 5-0 victory over AFC Sudbury in the Second Round in October.
The Blues also had no issues in dispatching Newmarket Town 7-1 at the next stage, which set up a semi-final with another Ipswich-based side in Ipswich Wanderers.
They were successfully seen off by goals from Hollie Clement and Roxanne Small, as Town made it to the final with a 2-0 win.
The cup final provided a great platform for Ipswich to showcase their full potential, which had not always been apparent throughout the course of the season.
The 5-0 scoreline against Lowestoft Town was a fair reflection of the contest, as the Blues played some of their best football in recent times at Colchester United’s Weston Holmes Community Stadium. At the time, Pruden hailed the display as an excellent team performance.
Now, the focus shifts onto next season, as Town will attempt to improve on this year’s league position.
Their task will not be made any easier by the departure of influential midfielder Clement, who leaves to go to America this summer, but there is always the potential for new players to join the squad in preparation for the new campaign.
The Development Squad has also played a crucial role in Ipswich Town Ladies’ successes over the past nine months.
In their first season in the Suffolk Girls and Women’s League, they have remained unbeaten in wrapping up the title and were only denied maximum points in two of their 14 league games, as they beat second placed Walsham-le-Willows to the championship by six points.
They also fought their way to a cup victory over East Bergholt on penalties, following a 0-0 draw after extra time.
Ipswich Town Ladies have every reason to be optimistic. Despite a slightly underwhelming league performance from the first team, they have enjoyed success in equal measure this season.
The introduction of the Development Squad has been hugely beneficial for the overall setup at Town and they now have firm foundations to build on.
Both sides should be hopeful of further achievements next season.