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Match Preview – Hashtag United

Ipswich Town Women v Hashtag United Women

Sunday 20th September – Goldstar Ground, Felixstowe, IP11 9HT – 2pm Kick Off (Gates open 12:30pm). Our Ground Guide can be found here

Due to Covid restrictions, this game will be limited to 400 supporters on a first come first served basis.

The Tractor Girls are finally back after last seasons campaign was cut short due to the Pandemic and they start at home against Hashtag United, who were know as AFC Basildon last season. Ipswich will have a chip on their shoulder after missing out on promotion last season, the Tractor Girls were sitting top of the league before the season got cut short. We teamed up with HashtagWomensFootball to look ahead to this Sundays curtain raiser.

Pre-Season

The Tractor Girls have had a really good pre-season, starting off with a win at Needham Market where they easily won 17-1 which undoubtedly gave the girls a huge boost of confidence. This was followed by a 0-2 win away at St Ives Town and a 0-6 win away at MK Dons. Watford proved too strong and beat us 3-0 on their own turf. Last Sunday, the First Team took part in a showcase match against the u21’s which saw some really good performances and a chance for fans to check out the new youngsters Joe Sheehan signed during the Summer.

New Faces

Ipswich have made a handful of new signings during the Summer, the standout one being Georgia Allen who returns to Suffolk after a spell with Arsenal and a Scholarship in the US. Ipswich fans will be itching to see the former Arsenal youth Captain return to where it all started for her and see her back in action in Blue. Georgia has joined the club at a time where Captain Amanda Crump is out of action due to pregnancy which could see Allen step into that Attacking Midfield role, but will face tough opposition from youngster and Ipswich Town fan Eloise King who really staked her claim for the position last season with impressive performances and goals.

Other new faces such as youngsters Issy Bryant and Lucy O’Brien who have put in good performances over pre-season will be wanting to stake a claim for first team places. Ipswich also have a trialist they are currently taking a look at and has played during pre-season fixtures.

Team News

Ipswich manager Joe Sheehan will have a selection headache with such a strong squad available to him and all the players showing good quality. Last season’s top scorer Natasha Thomas will be looking to hit the ground running in her bid for a Golden Boot season and will face tough opposition from youngsters Maddie Biggs and Zoe Barratt who both put in impressive performances last season. Ellie Rossiter, who started out as a Winger, has seemed to have been moved into a RB/RWB role and will be looking forward to getting back into competitive action after spending the back end of last season nursing an injury. Blue Wilson returned from a knock during Ipswich Town’s Showcase match last sunday and Georgia Allen will hopefully be back after missing some of pre-season due to injuries. Emma Wallis is returning from a second ACL injury but is expected to miss the start of the season as she continues her rehab.

Milestone

Lindsey Cooper’s next competitive fixture will be her 200th for Ipswich and, as a regular starter, could be in line to hit this landmark on Sunday. Lindsey was a big player for Ipswich last season, not just at the back, but also causing opposition defenders to have nightmares trying to mark her in the box.

Player focus –

All eyes will be on new signing Georgia Allen as the former Arsenal Captain and England International looks to make her Ipswich Town debut after her return in the Summer. Georgia will be a brilliant leader in a very young, but talented, side and fans will be looking to see where Manager Joe Sheehan fit her into his team this Sunday.

Hashtag United Women’s Pre-Season

Five wins from seven, including a victory against tier three outfit West Bromwich Albion, instantly confirms that it has been a largely successful pre-season on the pitch for the Essex side. Perhaps more pleasing for manager Jason Stephens is that the performances in four of those wins, as well as the narrow 3-2 defeat to Crawley, have set the bar at a very high level heading into the debut league campaign under the Hashtag United name.

The Tags have picked up where AFC Basildon left off, scoring goals for fun with an attacking brand of football that’s sure to be a hit with the new legion of supporters. While Sunday’s clash is, on paper, probably the hardest of the entire season, the visitors will make the trip to Suffolk with optimism.

The Summer Signings

While the bulk of the Hashtag United squad have carried over from AFC Basildon following the merger, several new faces have arrived at Park Lane this summer. Most notably, striker Evie Clarke has joined from tier two side London City Lionesses, to spearhead a frontline that already boasts this division’s top scorer of 2019/20 in Kelly Wealthall. Her quality has been evident in pre-season, and a big season will be expected of the former England youth player.

Clarke is joined by Katie Pounder, Stef Paci, Ella Hill, and Imogen Riches, adding quality all over the pitch. Hashtag United have lost a couple of promising former AFC Basildon players, but the key performers from last season have all remained – except defender Alex Bailess, who was forced into early retirement but now enjoys a non-playing role at the club – and the squad depth certainly looks a lot stronger thanks to the summer recruitment.

Hashtag United Women Team News

In addition to the pleasing performances, the pre-season schedule has been relatively kind to Hashtag United Women in regards to injuries. After coming to terms with the Bailess news, which came a few days before the first pre-season fixture, the club hasn’t been hit with any long-term absences. A couple of players have picked up knocks along the way but should be in contention for Sunday’s trip to Felixstowe. However, Pounder was an early casualty in Sunday’s friendly at West Brom, being replaced through injury just seconds into the contest and will be a doubt for this weekend.

Sunday’s opener is a massive occasion for the visitors, and not only because it delivers their first ever competitive fixture. This is a club that will be gunning for promotion but are all too aware that the talented Tractor Girls are the side to beat. Any team that can topple Joe Sheehan’s ladies will have an outstanding shot at lifting the title. For Hashtag, then, this is the litmus paper that will truly indicate where they currently stand and what improvements – if any – will be required to surmount a genuine push for promotion.

No prizes are given out in August, or rather September in this unprecedented schedule, but this already feels like a six-pointer before a ball has been kicked. For the visitors, the memories of last year’s cup clash provide another source of motivation. While there’s no shame in losing such a difficult fixture, a repeat scoreline won’t be tolerated.

One To Watch

Poppy Binding. Over the past 12 months she has progressed from a technically gifted youngster that could deliver flashes of brilliance to a genuine star that demands the ball, unlocking defences seemingly at will. If pre-season is any barometer, she may find the target with greater regularity over the next few months too.

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