South West Women’s League
Oldland Abbotonians 2, Ilminster Town 2
ILMINSTER Town Ladies secured third spot in the Eastern Division with a point in their final game of the season on Sunday, writes Sam Clarke.
They took on a strong Oldland Abbotonians team, in a game that would determine who finished in third spot.
Ilminster only had to avoid defeat, and doing this would cap a good season.
Town travelled with a strong squad of 12 players – much the same team had been playing for the last few games.
Other than third being up for grabs there was also something else on offer for Ilminster’s young striker Shannon Crouch.
One goal would see her tie for top league goal scorer, and two would see her take the honour, but unfortunately this wasn’t to be.
The game started reasonably end to end, but neither team could take a chance early on.
Yet didn’t take long for the first goal of the game to come, and it was the home team that got it.
A fantastic strike from 30 yards by the Oldland central midfielder flew into the top left-hand corner, with nothing that Ilminster keeper Kath Parsons could do about it.
The first half didn’t have many more chances, but the more notable ones did goes Town’s way.
In the 20th minute Maisie Poole hit a fantastic strike from just inside the box that saw the ball cannon back off the crossbar and to safety.
Poole also had another effort hit the woodwork in the half, and the final notable chance came Megan Arlidge’s way, as her half volley from 25 yards flew straight at the keeper.
The second half took a while to get going, but didn’t disappoint in the last 15 minutes.
The closest Shannon Crouch got to scoring was in the 60th minute, when the opportunistic striker chased down a loose ball and capitalised on a miscommunication in the hosts’ backline.
She got between defender and goalkeeper to poke the ball towards goal, but a covering Oldland player did just enough to reach the ball and get it to safety.
Ilminster’s equaliser finally came when an in-swinging corner from midfielder Meg Purchase was met by the experienced central defender Emma ‘Chopper’ Jennings, who headed the ball powerfully past the keeper into the bottom right-hand corner, making it it 1-1 with 15 minutes still to play.
In the 80th minute Ilminster then took the lead, as another corner from Meg Purchase, from the right this time, was met by young full-back Sammie Knight, who headed the ball with force into the right-hand side of the goal.
That meant it was 2-1 to Ilminster with 10 minutes to go, and third spot looked secure now.
The season ended with some drama, though, as in the 90th minute a cross was played into the box and with the wind it deceived both central defenders and goalkeeper, after a flick from the Oldland centre forward.
The ball would have gone in, if not for left-back-turned-goalkeeper Dana Andrews, whose hand stopped it from finding the net.
That meant a penalty to Oldland, and a memento for Andrews to end the season – a red card and a ban to start next season.
The resulting penalty was calmly put away, into the left-hand side of the goal, for a final score of 2-2.
Ilminster only needed a point and that was what they got, but it was a bittersweet way to end the season.
Player of the match was young central defender Daisy Charles, who as ever had a very solid game.