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Women's Football News
Luton Town have had a promising pre-season so far, ahead of the new campaign which starts this Sunday when they take on Gillingham.
After drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest and beating Nuneaton Town 6-1, a younger and less experienced side then travelled to Charlton Athletic last weekend, where they were beaten 4-1.
Striker Jo Rutherford has scored in all three games so far, netting four times, and has had a good start to the season after suffering an injury hit campaign last year. She joined the Hatters at the beginning of last season but suffered a serious injury in the second game of the season and was absent for a long period. She then suffered other injury problems and only really came back into form right at the end of the season, so she has started how she finished and hopefully that will continue.
There have been some new additions to the squad, some from other clubs and some progressing their way through from the Development and U16/U18 squads. Dionne Manning made her debut against Charlton Athletic after signing from Spurs during the close season. An attacking midfielder/striker, Dionne will be a welcome addition to the squad.
Youngsters Lucy Webster and Jodie Southby have been ever present throughout pre-season so far and have joined Luton from local clubs. Versatile and technically good, they add youth, pace and composure on the ball. The club has also added another goalkeeper to the squad in Jess Devoti. Jess is vastly experienced and has played at a high level for several clubs. She gives us an extra option between the sticks and adds that bit of experience to the very young squad that they have. Mollie Robinson is another player who has recently joined the first team. A young, pacey defender with enormous strength and desire, who adds something going forward as well.
On pre-season so far and the upcoming season, first team manager Nikki Baker said: "It has been a strong pre-season so far. The first two games against Notts Forest and Nuneaton, I was really happy with. We kept our shape well and moved the ball well. Against Charlton I wasn't as happy, but we made lots of changes to the squad, had players making debuts and lots of youngsters in the team. I still saw a lot of positives and was happy with a lot of things.
"I deliberately chose three games against teams in the league above us to try and push us physically and mentally, as well as football wise, and I am pleased overall with the outcome so far. I have especially been impressed with the younger players coming into the first team. 16-year-old Lucy Webster and Jodie Southby have settled into the squad well and are so composed on the ball. Also, Mollie Robinson has improved so much and after only making two first team appearances last season, will be a much more regular player in the side. Jess Devoti coming into the squad has been really encouraging with her experience behind the back four. There have been debuts also for Dionne Manning against Charlton, and one or two others also.
"Going forward, especially in the first two games we have looked really good on the ball and the goals have come from all over the pitch. We look fitter and better than last season. I don't think Nottingham Forest or Nuneaton, who both play in the Northern Premier League above us, expected us to play as well as we did, especially Nuneaton. I think we were unlucky not to beat Forest to be honest and we fully deserved the battering we gave to Nuneaton. We had 13 shots on target and three off target just in the first half and a clean sheet. The second half was more even but we still drew the half 1-1 and contained them easily. Against Forest we played on a much bigger pitch and we were able to stretch them and get in behind and fully deserved the result, if not more.
"Even against Charlton, where we did get pulled apart in the second half a bit, as well as gift them a penalty, we still had 12 attempts on goal over the 90 minutes and missed two very good chances. We now have one friendly left against local side Offley & Stopsley and the season starts on the 21st August where we kick off against Gillingham."
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