Luton Town Ladies edged past local rivals AFC Dunstable Ladies with a narrow 2-1 win at Stockwood Park on Sunday to reach the final of the Bedfordshire County Cup.
The Hatters saw off their lower league opponents 4-0 in the Women’s FA Cup back in November but were presented with a far more organised and disciplined AFC side this time round.
The visitors successfully negated the potent Luton attacking armoury that were fresh from a thumping 4-0 triumph at Leyton Orient WFC last time out, as for long periods both sides were restricted to ambitious free-kicks in pursuit of an opening goal.
Luton eventually reminded the OD’s of their offensive potential in the second period when Nicola Henman’s cutback broke for Dionne Manning, who skewed her shot wide of the post.
Henman then volleyed over from close range after a visiting defender inadvertently set her up by failing to deal with a long throw into the penalty area.
Luton breathed a huge sigh of relief shortly after though as AFC broke through, with Erica Byron having to clear off the line.
That sparked a significant few minutes which drastically altered the complexion of the match.
It started with Henman’s burst of pace which saw her arrive at the byline on the left-hand side before her cross flew into the net off an unfortunate defender to break the deadlock.
Having exhibited remarkable resistance up until that moment the away side briefly lost their discipline as straight from the kick-off they conceded possession and allowed Manning to feed Steph Gale, who was upended in the box.
The resulting penalty was converted by captain Zara Carroll as Luton had now established a commanding and most likely unassailable lead.
An incredible strike from Samaira Khan into the top corner from an improbable angle on the right-hand side halved the deficit with a fair portion of the contest remaining.
The equaliser was not forthcoming, though, and Town held out to ensure they progressed into the final
This weekend, Luton have an FA WPL Plate tie at home to Milton Keynes Dons FC Ladies, kick-off at 2pm.