FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One: Luton Town Ladies 5 Stevenage Ladies 2
Luton Town Ladies enjoyed a resounding victory in their opening FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One match of the season, hammering Stevenage Ladies with a scintillating attacking display.
The match could have unfolded differently had the visitors capitalised on a couple of early chances as Leah Littlechild’s cross was headed wide by Emma Marshall and then Donna McGuigan’s volley forced an excellent save from Grace Brooks.
Luton assumed control of the contest thereafter as they surged into a 3-0 lead.
Zara Carroll notched first with a thunderous strike into the top corner from 30 yards and then grabbed her second, guiding the ball home after Rachel Kosky’s free kick was headed into her path by Jessica McKay.
McKay was soon on target herself, springing beyond the opposition’s backline and curling one sumptuously into the far corner.
The Town defence almost gifted Stevenage a route back into the game with an own goal, but fortunately Brooks claimed it to spare their blushes, while McGuigan scuffed an effort wide from close range before pulling one back, latching on to Amy Makewell’s through ball to finally beat Brooks.
Littlechild fired against the crossbar, while Boro’s penalty appeals were dismissed by referee Dean Carney after McGuigan went down under a challenge from Brooks, but they didn’t have to wait long to get their second of the afternoon as Marshall smashed home.
Such was the frantic nature of this encounter, straight from the kick-off, the Hatters had an opportunity through McKay as she rounded the keeper and proceeded to hit the woodwork.
In the second period, the Boro should have levelled when Nicole Emmings found herself one-on-one with Brooks, only to see Town’s stopper save the day.
However, Luton made sure of the points when Dionne Manning picked out Nicola Henman on the edge of the area and the winger was able to place her shot into the bottom corner.
Town almost got a fifth when Joanne Rutherford’s driven strike was tipped round the post by Katherine Long, but they did make it 5-2 as Rutherford’s corner was converted by Henman converted at the back post for her second.
Speaking afterwards, manager Nikki Baker said: “It was an excellent win for us and to score five goals is even more pleasing.
“It was disappointing how we let Stevenage back in it as we gifted them two goals with defensive errors, but the girls showed fantastic mental strength to hold out for the first half and then go on and score twice more.
“All five goals were taken well, there were some really pleasing performances all across the pitch and we look forward to the next game now.”
Luton visit Enfield Town Ladies this Sunday.