Hatters Ladies see off AFC to reach second round

Dionne Manning scores for Luton Ladies on Sunday
Dionne Manning scores for Luton Ladies on Sunday

Luton Town Ladies saw off local rivals AFC Dunstable Ladies 4-0 at Creasey Park on Sunday as they progressed into the second round of the Women’s FA Cup.

Joanne Rutherford was restored to the starting line-up and she fired wide early on having neatly controlled Dionne Manning’s pass and turned two defenders.

Manning quickly took shooting matters into her hands, driving into the area before striking into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper.

The opportunities continued to come for the away side as Nicola Henman forced the keeper to stick out a leg to turn her shot behind for a corner, the set-piece dropping for Jess McKay to smash a volley over the bar from close range.

Dunstable, who ply their trade a division below in the Eastern Region Women’s Football League, spent the vast majority of the opening half hour containing their opponents but served Luton a warning with a lob that drifted just wide of Kezia Hassall’s goal.

The Hatters needed to capitalise on their dominance swiftly and the identity of the player who opened the scoring was no real surprise as McKay, who scored the winner in the previous round at Maidenhead United, bent a terrific shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.

Having struggled so long for a goal last Sunday, the opener seemed to inspire Nikki Baker’s team and by half time they had settled the contest with Manning’s cut-back buried into the net by the impressive Henman.

It then became 3-0 as McKay volleyed her second emphatically from inside the box.

The in-form left-winger could have secured her hat-trick after the interval as she latched on to Henman’s ball in behind but saw her shot palmed away by the keeper.

With the prospect of AFC mounting a comeback highly unlikely, the second half couldn’t quite hit the same heights as the first.

Luton remained an attacking threat, however, and they added a fourth when Manning’s looping shot sailed over the despairing keeper to complete a comfortable afternoon’s work.

The hosts had a couple of decent chances but were well-beaten by a rampant Hatters side, who now host Harlow Ladies in the next round on December 3, as a thrilled Baker said: “We are delighted to win but winning 4-0 tops it off.

“It could have and should have been a few more but I am more than happy.

“We dominated from the off and put the game plan into full effect.

“We hope we can take this into league games now, and look forward to the draw for the FA Cup.”

Luton need to transfer this form back into the FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One with a trip to Actonians Ladies on Sunday, kick-off 2pm.

AFC make the trip to Writtle Ladies in the Eastern Region Women’s League Premier Division.