09 October 2017 17:19
After a tough midweek game, Town manager was forced into some changes, for the FA Cup game away at Maidenhead Utd, including development team defender Kezia Hassall stepping up into goal for the Hatters.
With all 3 goalkeepers injured or unavailable, Hassall took the gloves with no fear. Lucy Webster was also given her first start of the season at right back, as well as Lucy Tape on the left side of defence. New signing Steph Gale was handed her full debut up front.
It was the home side who started the strongest, passing the ball well in midfield and trying to get in behind, but some superb defending from Rachel Kosky stopped the attack.
Dionne Manning had the first real opportunity, as Gale and Rutherford combined well, putting Manning in on goal, but the keeper came out well and smothered the chance.
Soon after, Hassall was pulled into action as the Maidenhead striker managed to get onto a loose ball, but the Town stopped tipped it over the bar.
Midway through the half, a great ball from Lisa Nixon saw Gale through on goal, but the keeper made another good save. Ten minutes later, Gale could of grabbed her first goal for the club after some excellent play from Jess McKay and Nixon. The back post cross from Nixon fell nicely to Gale but her shot smashed just over the bar.
On 34 minutes, Hassall came out to punch a cross, but as she did so was fouled and bundled into the goal. This seemed to kick the Town into life a little and in the ten minutes before half time, Town had 3 good opportunities to go ahead.
First McKay crossed a superb ball into the box and Rutherford had it in the net, but it was ruled out for offside. Nixon then played a superb switch into Rutherford but this time her half volley sailed over. Then right on half time, Zara Carroll smashed her free kick just high and wide of the goal.
After half time, Town had the slope on the pitch with them and continued to try and get in behind. It took 15 minutes but on the hour mark the Hatters finally got the goal. Carroll headed on a long clearance, before Rutherford cleverly flicked the ball past her marker where McKay was running in behind. She collected the ball, held off her marker and fired superbly into the goal, scoring her 5th goal in 3 games.
Just minutes later, some excellent footwork from Gale enabled her to get a shot off, but as it was on it's way in, some excellent defending from Maidenhead saw the shot blocked on the line.
The home side then had the best chance of the half to equalise. A clever ball over Webster allowed their striker to get in on goal, but she fired it across goal, inches wide of the post.
With twenty minutes to go of the tie, and Maidenhead pushing for the winner, Town were so unlucky not to add to their lead. First Rutherford slid in at the back post from a McKay cross but it was well saved, before Kosky superbly hit a shot that caused yet another block on the line.
In the last 10 minutes, some excellent defending from Kosky and Amy Summerfield kept the score 1-0, before in the dying moments, Hassall looked like she might be beaten but raced off her line and jumped to punch the ball out of danger.
Soon after, the full time whistle went and the Town go into the first round proper of the FA Cup.
Baker said after the game "We are delighted to get into the next round and the girls worked tirelessly. There were some heavy legs in the second half after a tough midweek game but we battled through well. It was disappointing not to add to the 1-0, but Kosky & Hassall today were superb in keeping the danger out defensively. Kezia (Hassall) showed great guts to say she would go in goal for us and it paid off. We were very pleased with the clean sheet. It was good to see Lucy Webster back on the pitch and to be finally give Steph Gale her full debut after injury".