23 October 2017 08:25
Gillingham 3-4 Luton Town Ladies (AET)
After a heavy defeat last season to Gillingham, before they got promoted, the ladies expected a tough game in the Women’s Premier League Plate.
Manager Nikki Baker went unchanged from the midweek demolition of Denham.
Straight from kick off, Lucy Webster won the ball and drove forward, before playing a one two with Dionne Manning, and smashed the ball goalwards but it was just wide. Zara Carroll then had a chance from distance and forced the keeper into a save.
The home side had two chances to score on 10 minutes, but some good defending followed by a superb save by Angelika Kopec kept it 0-0.
Soon after, the Hatters went ahead. Erica Byron swang a corner in and Nicola Henman flicked it into the net from close distance. Straight after going ahead, Carroll had a free kick headed off of the line.
Gills then had their best chance to equalise on 25 minutes when a goal line scramble from a corner was almost poked in, but Kopec smothered the ball well.
Just before half time, Steph Gale should have doubled the Town’s lead from close range but her shot was skied over. Nicola Henman and Byron also had long distance shots dip over.
In the second half, the Town continued to dominate the game, but couldn’t double their lead from several chances.
On 70 minutes, the lack of goals cost the Hatters as Webster made a clumsy challenge on her player and Gills scored from the resulting penalty.
For the remainder of the game it was all Luton again as Henman and McKay had shots saved, Manning smashed the ball against the post and Jo Rutherford’s shot just went wide. In the dying moments of the half, Kopec made another great save, and Gills could of nicked it during injury time but the shot sailed over, taking the game into extra time.
The Hatters started extra time on top and Rutherford’s shot was well saved. Henman then put the Town ahead after some great work from Webster, carrying the ball forward and playing Henman in.
Manning then played a superb switch into McKay, who smashed the ball into the ner to make it 3-1 to the Town at half time of ET.
The second half saw Gills throw everything at the Town and it paid off as they scored two quick succession goals bringing the score level.
However the Hatters weren’t done there as Henman carried the ball into the box and shot, seeing the ball roll in at the near post from a deflection, completing her hatrick.
Some good defending from the Town, and intelligent game management from substitute Jodie Bellinger ran down the clock and saw that the Hatters went through to the next round.
Baker after the game was impressed with her side “We outplayed a team from the league above and completely deserved the win. A couple of switch offs cost us in extra time, but we showed superb mental strength and went onto score again. We had a game plan and stuck to it, and it paid off”.
Next week Luton are back in league action, after 4 straight wins, away at MK Dons, 2pm kick off.