Lowestoft Ladies 3 Ipswich Wanderers 2
Goals from Natasha Thomas, Clieo Stephenson and Charlotte Eastwood see Lowestoft extend their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win.
After five weeks without a competitive game the Lowestoft Ladies beat Ipswich Wanderers in a close match, continuing their unbeaten start to the season and registering a 3-2 win with goals from Natasha Thomas, Clieo Stephenson and Charlotte Eastwood.
Lowestoft got off to the best of starts, opening the scoring within the first ten minutes, with Natasha Thomas clean through on goal and calmly slotting home for an early 1-0 lead for the ladies in blue.
It was a great start for them but there were signs of rustiness at the back, with the Lowestoft defence not fully settling into the game and proving a little sloppy, allowing Ipswich plenty of the ball in front of them, with the number 7 heavily involved and causing problems early on.
Lowestoft were however looking lively when coming forward and after 19 minutes they increased their lead, with Ellie Froud winning the ball really well with a strong foot and releasing Clieo Stephenson into the box, to steer a good finish under the keeper and into the corner of the goal to send Lowestoft 2-0 up.
The Lowestoft defence were now starting to settle into the game a bit more and find their feet, however a great pass from midfield by Ipswich released the number 7 into the Lowestoft area and with a confident finish past Lowestoft keeper Nikki Wigg, Ipswich were back in the game at 2-1 (23 mins).
Lowestoft were edging it in the attacking third though and Natasha Thomas was causing the Ipswich left back no end of problems, looking bright, sharp and putting some good balls into the Ipswich area. Luckily for Ipswich their keeper was matching every ball that was being sent in, by latching onto the deliveries and displaying some good handling to ensure the balls were not met by a Lowestoft attacker.
Chantelle Keevil was getting forward on occasions from left back for Lowestoft and delivering some good balls to her teammates but for a period the game slightly went off the boil.
The midfield dynamo Broghan Scully was covering lots of ground and working hard but Lowestoft were finding it difficult to fully get hold of the midfield, in an intriguing battle between the two sides.
Natasha Thomas was continuing to prove a worthy attacking option for Lowestoft down the right channel and as halftime approached, instead of putting another cross in, Natasha went for goal with a shot across the face of the goalmouth from the angle, just going past the far post.
The half ended with Ipswich winning a free-kick on the edge of the Lowestoft area but with the number 4 drilling the ball wide, Lowestoft reached the break with a slender 2-1 lead.
The second half started well for Lowestoft, by nudging ahead even further. Charlotte Eastwood, who has returned from America to play for the team again on a permanent basis, picked the ball up 25 yards out and sent a shot over the keeper for 3-1, with the sun probably not helping the keepers line of sight. All the same it was a good strike from the midfielder, who has plenty of long range goals to her name for Lowestoft and with just 48 minutes on the clock Lowestoft were looking good for the points.
Three goals nearly became four, with the impressive Natasha Thomas getting joy down the right again and sending a great cross in, taking the keeper out of play but just getting out of the reach of Clieo Stephenson, who tried to connect at the far post with the goal gaping.
Natasha Thomas was certainly proving to be the shining light for Lowestoft today and was working really hard down the right, with Lowestoft seeing plenty of the ball. The Lowestoft defence were also looking much more alert this half and defending well to keep a strong Ipswich side at bay.
However, like all good sides, Ipswich were not ready to roll over and with a ball coming in from the right, the number 17 sent a shot in on goal, which appeared to be going wide but Lowestoft keeper Nikki Wigg took no chances by pushing it behind. From the resulting corner Ipswich came close again, with the ball coming out to the number 15, who's shot came back into play off the crossbar.
Ipswich were applying the pressure now, sensing that if they could get it back to 3-2 then it would be a nervy end to the match for Lowestoft but Lowestoft were defending well and not making it easy for them.
Lowestoft had a momentary relief from the Ipswich pressure, with a long ball finding Jodie Wells, who knocked the ball back to Chloe Hoffman to send a good bending effort in on goal, just clearing the bar.
Lowestoft started to ride out the pressure from Ipswich but just as the storm seemed to have passed, Ipswich snatched a goal to send the score to 3-2 and set up a nervy end to the game (81 mins).
In the final moments Lowestoft had two good chances to put the game to bed, with Natasha Thomas beating the number 18 to the ball and driving into the box, only to shoot disappointingly wide of goal and Clieo Stephenson being found in the Ipswich area but with the keeper advancing she couldn't get enough on the ball to steer it round and into the net.
Ipswich were pressing themselves and trying to hunt out the equaliser and Lowestoft survived a real heart in the mouth moment in the dying seconds, with Lowestoft keeper Nikki Wigg slow to react off her line to a long ball and the Ipswich forward sending a great chance wide of the target.
The final whistle shortly followed and even though it had not been the greatest of games, Lowestoft had edged a tough game to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
With the lack of game time recently it took a while for Lowestoft to fully settle and focus, especially at the back but as the game went on they slipped into their rhythm and edged the game in an offensive sense with the Lowestoft defence growing as the game went on and shutting out Ipswich.
This was always going to be a close match but Lowestoft striker Natasha Thomas put in a Lady of the Match performance, opening the scoring for her side and continually being a thorn in the side of Ipswich with her speed, skill and deliveries into the box from the right channel.
Well done Ladies.