Heartbreak for young Tractor Girls in semi-final defeat against Gunners
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town Women Under 21’s dreams of reaching the WSL Academy Cup final were shattered with eight minutes remaining of extra-time as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the University of Hertfordshire, writes Kieren Standley.
Despite a magnificent display of resilience, Jennifer Echegeni’s strike deep into the added-on period sent the Gunners through to face Manchester United in the final.
In the opening stages of the game the tempo was immense, with both sides vying to get off to a good start. Arsenal had enjoyed a great spell of early possession but it was Ipswich who had the first real attempt of the game with Paige Peake’s dangerous free-kick forcing Libby Harper to tip over the bar.
Peake was again at the heart of the action as another free-kick caused havoc in the Arsenal area before Charlotte Kellett was unlucky to see her subsequent effort on goal well blocked.
Sadly a positive half for the Blues was brought to an abrupt end as Town keeper Leonie Jackson was involved in a nasty collision with Gunners forward Paige Bailey-Gayle, resulting in the game being temporarily suspended whilst she received medical attention from paramedics.
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After an almost hour’s delay and a change of pitch, the game was allowed to resume, with Arsenal immediately looking to get on the front foot.
The Londoners were soon in the ascendancy after the restart as substitute Town keeper Emily Goodacre was called into immediate action to thwart a couple of opportunities.
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Despite their dominance, Arsenal simply couldn’t break the young Tractor Girls down, with the likes of Lucy Egan, Abbie Lafayette and Peake among a number of Ipswich players putting in colossal defensive performances.
However, the almighty resistance was breached in heartbreaking circumstances as Echegeni directed a dangerous delivery past Goodacre to give the Gunners the lead.
Ipswich refused to lie down and were unlucky not to level in the final moments as Grey found Mia Cinque, but the Town midfielder saw her shot blocked inside the six-yard box.
Town XI: Jackson (Goodacre), Bedeau (Billson), Peake, Egan, Hubbard (c), Lafayette, Morton (Woodbyrne), King (Cinque), Abrehart (Thomas), Grey, Kellett.