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Luton Town 1 Enfield Town 2
FAWNL Division One South East side Enfield Town progressed into the First Round Proper of the Vitality FA Women's Cup with a hard fought 2-1 away win over Eastern Regional League opponents Luton Town at a foggy The 61 FC.
A match full of determined play from all concerned was settled by two Beau Parker goals either side of the break, after the hosts had led with an early Erica Byron penalty.
The opening exchanges showed that a close contest was on the cards with Luton sharp into the tackle and threatening the Enfield goal by getting the ball forward early. One such break led to a shot striking an arm and Byron celebrated a birthday goal by striking a confident spot kick beyond the reach of keeper Sophy Stonehouse on 12 minutes.
Dionne Manning went close to adding a second only to be denied by Stonehouse moving quickly off her line to challenge. Enfield started to dominate possession after the mid point of the half with Parker, Courtney Cook and Mollie Kmita going on dangerous runs from deep but the Luton defence was solid.
It took a fine move from Parker right on the break to draw Enfield level. Cutting in from the left, she fired in a low shot beyond Emma Kirby and just inside the far post.
Enfield continued strongly on the restart but a defensive slip let in Luton skipper Jess McKay for a run on goal. Stonehouse rescued her side with a brave double save, parrying the first shot before dropping on the loose ball under pressure on 58 minutes.
The crucial nature of this contribution was shown when Kmita got free on the right to cross for Parker to notch her second on the hour. Luton were far from discouraged by this setback and set about putting Enfield defence under pressure. They created promising positions and forced several corners but the Enfield defence showed real grit in protecting their lead.
Skipper Nuala McKevitt had a powerful shot from distance well held by Kirby and the visitors were often able to find an outlet for their defence to keep Luton at bay and threaten a decisive third.
Stonehouse was again quick off her line to foil substitute Aurora Ryan and with one crucial clearance from Danielle Smith late on, Enfield claimed a hard earned First Round tie away to either Kent Football United or AFC Wimbledon who were unable to play their delayed match because of a waterlogged pitch.
Both teams emerged with great credit from a typical FA Cup battle, especially in view of the enforced break and lack of match practice, providing a gripping match, albeit intermittently difficult to see through the fog!
Luton Town: Emma Kirby, Leyah Maddix, Malika Gille, Tanya Blacksley, Elly Wade, Sheree Oliver, Kim Newns, Nicola Henman, Erica Byron, Jess McKay, Dionne Manning. Subs: Aurora Ryan, Olivia Abraham, Anne Folan, Dawn Mallett, Rebecca Kane.
Enfield Town: Sophy Stonehouse, Danielle Smith, Anna Re, Carla Perez, Sheryce later, Nuala McKevitt, Amy Cooper, Beau Parker, Courtney Cook, Mollie Kmita, Amy Makewell. Subs: Katie Miller, Lucy Loomes, Jodie Bellinger, Jess Charles, Rebecca Evans.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Leyah Maddix tries to escape the attentions of Amy Makewell
(middle) Goalscorers Beau Parker and Erica Byron in an unusual challenge!
(bottom) Jess McKay tries her luck from a free kick
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