Ipswich Town Ladies boss Ralph Pruden steps down after final game

Ralph Pruden revealed he will be stepping down as Ipswich Town Ladies manager. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Ralph Pruden revealed he will be stepping down as Ipswich Town Ladies manager. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

WPL Division One Ipswich Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 Ipswich Town Ladies ended their 2017/2018 campaign with a hard fought 1-1 draw with fellow promotion hopefuls AFC Wimbledon at Playford Road on Sunday, writes Kieren Standley.

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Zoe Cossey’s second-half strike was enough for the Blues to claim a fair point but the result was overshadowed by the shock departure of manager Ralph Pruden following the final whistle.

It was the visitors who had the better of the early chances - with Katie Stanley unlucky to see her shot clip the top of the crossbar. Town themselves struggle to create any clear-cut chances in the first-half despite what was an end-to-end game.

Wimbledon took the lead just moments after the restart as Town keeper’ Sian Fagg got the ball trapped under her feet and while under pressure from Meila D’Santos, clumsily brought down the Dons’ midfielder. Caroline Bisson stepped up for the visitors and fired high past Fagg to her right .

Falling behind seemed to spark the Blues into life, with Cossey, Amanda Crump and Cassie Craddock all going agonisingly close to bringing Town level. Wimbledon could have found themselves two goals in front not long after when Jenny Banfield saw her shot ricochet off the post, but Fagg was alert to smother the loose ball and prevent further danger.

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

However, the Blues finally drew level 18 minutes from time as Cossey netted her 21st goal of the season. Lindsey Cooper sent a searching ball over the top to the Town winger - who burst clear with great pace and fired low underneath Dons’ keeper’ Tash Salgado.

Both sides would have further chances to snatch the three points. First, Fagg was called into action to deny a good chance for Laura Quinn-Low at the back post - with the Blues stopper producing a strong save with her legs.

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Town’s top-scorer Natasha Thomas was then denied at the near post before Jordan Arnoup saw her free-kick sail narrowly over the bar.

After the final whistle of the season, there was an enormous shock as Town boss Pruden dropped a huge bombshell – announcing he is stepping down after four years in charge.

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Ipswich Town players celebrate Zoe Cossey's equaliser. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

He leaves the Blues having guided the Tractor Girls to a third-placed finish and a fourth straight Suffolk County Cup triumph this season.