Ipswich Town Women 'not daunted' by new challenge after securing promotion
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town Women are ready to ‘embrace the challenge’ and move upwards after winning promotion to the third tier of women's football.
After two curtailed seasons in a row the Tractor Girls will be moving out of the Women’s National League South East and into the Women’s National League Southern Premier.
The team were at the top of the league when the season was brought to a premature close because of the coronavirus.
Town played their final game in April when they lost to Billericay in the FA Cup, but before that the team had been rampant, winning 10-0 at Cambridge United and 4-0 at Cambridge City in an unbeaten start to the season.
As a result of the cancellation of tiers 3 to 6, all teams in these leagues were given the opportunity to apply for promotion by the FA.
Clubs were marked against on both off and on field criteria, with Town just one of two sides moved up.
Ipswich Town boss Joe Sheehan, whose side made history when they reached the fifth round of the FA Cup last season, squaring off against mighty Manchester City, said: "It's been a long wait, an agonising period of not knowing.
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"We are delighted and excited for next season.
"It's what we have deserved after a couple of years of particularly a strong league campaign with the support of a decent cup run last year in particular.
“It's not been as easy as the wider community might have thought it would have been.”
Sheehan said the weight of expectation had been heavy on his team in recent months.
"It has been quite challenging, last year after 14 games we thought we were close, we started really well but it generated a bit of expectation because of how good we were at the level," said Sheehan.
"That made it actually quite difficult to get it over the line.
"We have good players and we are ultimately a team that everyone wants to try and stop.
"What we did start to find is that teams would do anything to stop us really, through how they played or managed the game.
"There was an expectation at tier 4 and teams tried to ultimately stop us in any way possible.
"It doesn't make it any easier especially when you have such a young group. They are going to be put in situations that they might not be able to deal with.
"They are all the things that we thought might halt us in our progress to be moved up.
"I would like to think that moving up a league we will meet our match a bit. It will be more of an even affair that might suit us a bit better."
Sheehan said the team would have preferred to get promotion done on the pitch but were looking forward to moving on.
"We thought about experiencing that moment in the dressing room before a game and you know it's this game that this game that could win you promotion," said Sheehan.
"We wanted to experience a referee's final whistle but those aren't things we are able to experience.
"It would be really good to get out of it again and we will embrace that challenge.
"I always felt this might be the most difficult one. I thought if we were able to win the league we could use that experience to go again."
The Tractor Girls will now be facing the likes of Cardiff City and former top tier side Yeovil.
Town have faced some of the teams in the league before in cup games and pre-season friendlies.
"It's good to know that we have been able to compete in cup fixtures or in friendlies against these teams in the league above so we are not daunted by that test," Sheehan said.
"We might not get the rampant results that we had done previously but I think we will be better suited and see where it takes us."
The promotion leaves them just two tiers away from the likes of Manchester City and the top level of the women's game in the UK.