15 January 2018 09:12
Having exited one cup competition last weekend, Luton Town Ladies responded this week with a polished performance that yielded a 3-1 victory over Southampton Saints Girls & Ladies and progression into the next round of the FA WPL Plate.
Both sides participated in a rather reserved opening with action inside the respective penalty areas limited until the speed and endeavour of Dionne Manning and Natasha Fensome began to cause problems for the Saints’ rearguard- the latter firing narrowly wide from the right channel of the box.
Top scorer Jess McKay then struck the bar with a drilled effort from distance before the deadlock was broken by Fensome as she started the move with an incisive pass out to Manning, whose cross saw Nicola Henman collide with the goalkeeper diverting the ball into the path of Fensome who smashed home.
Manning’s perpetual dribbles down the right flank continued to disconcert the Southampton defenders, who were equally occupied by the energetic Fensome, and her latest surging run produced the second goal for McKay as she latched onto a cut-back near out to finish.
The Hatters’ stylish first-half display encapsulated by a subtle flick by Fensome through the defender's legs as the hosts approached the interval in consummate control.
And it got even better after the break as- not for the first time this season- McKay unleashed a ferocious shot from a considerable distance that rippled the roof of the net for 3-0.
The visitors weren’t disheartened, though, and proceeded to reduce the arrears Kezia Hassall saved their initial shot but couldn’t prevent Krystal Whyte sticking away the rebound and they were galvanised by that goal as they enjoyed a decent period of pressure.
That quickly ceased, however, and Luton set about adding to their lead with Henman meeting a corner to head onto the bar before Rachel Kosky’s follow-up was remarkably saved by the Saints’ keeper.
A terrific, jinking run down the right from Fensome soon followed as they drifted beyond two players and saw her shot tipped wide for a corner.
The resulting dead-ball was whipped in by substitute Joanne Rutherford and after Henman’s header was cleared off the line the ball was worked back out to the corner-taker to deliver once more with Fensome latching onto to it this time and becoming the latest Luton player to strike the woodwork.
McKay shot wide from close range and Zara Carroll gave the cross-bar a final clatter with a vicious free-kick as the home side had to settle for a 3-1 triumph.
Baker was very happy with the performance from her side and said “Today we did the simple things well. We moved the ball with pace and controlled the game from the off. We did the nasty stuff really well on a tough pitch and defended well as a unit. Tash made a great impact on her first start since her return to the club and I also though Rachel Kosky was outstanding today at centre back. They are lucky we didn’t stick 5 or 6 on them as we had multiple chances, but a win is a win in the cup”.
There were no league outings in December and the wait for one in January will have to wait another week with Woburn & Wavendon away in the County Cup the next assignment on Sunday, KO 2pm.