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Match Reports

Report: Luton Town 1-1 Stevenage FCW (A)

26 September 2023

Match Reports

Report: Luton Town 1-1 Stevenage FCW (A)

26 September 2023

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This much anticipated local derby provided all the thrills and spills expected pre match in a game that included 2 goals, 2 red cards and 2 teams that caused each other numerous problems throughout the contest. Goals from Hannah Bodily and Andie Dickens cancelled out each other in yet another epic battle as Stevenage FCW travelled the short distance to Barton FC to face Luton Town.

Boro’ started brightly as they would dominate the early exchanges whilst playing downhill. Sophie Hendy tried her luck within the first few seconds and Rebecca Edge looked nailed on to give Stevenage the lead from a delicious Hannah Nebbitt cross, but headed wide. The most action the Boro’ box saw was when Amber Pearson was cautioned for a challenge on Celine Ray.

Stevenage continued to attack and chances came and went as Emily Schofield and Amy Gooderham bot shot wide, with the latter the best chance of the half up to that point. Sandwiched between them was a yellow card for Anna Baker-Re for a challenge on the halfway line.

However, it was the nineteenth minute that saw Boro’ gain the advantage. A cross from Nebbitt looked as though it would be plucked from the sky by Angelika Kopec-Knurek, but the ball was not caught and as it fell to the ground, Bodily pounced to poke the ball into the net.

It was no more than Boro’s play deserved and Gooderham could have doubled the lead had she converted her one-on-one with Kopec-Knurek. However, the Luton stopper pushed the ball away and Gooderham had a second bite at the cherry from a cross on the right. The Boro’ forward had worked well to gain the space required for her header, but the pace was taken out of the ball and was a simple collection to the goalkeeper’s relief.

Samaira Khan ensured Boro’ knew that Luton would not lie down as she headed a pinpoint cross down and wide at the far post but the game simmered down with a few stoppages and the half drew to a close.

Stevenage started the second half as they did the first. Schofield and Gooderham both had opportunities that flashed wide of the mark and then Luton began to exert their own pressure on Celine Ray’s goal. The first outstanding stop came as she tipped over a cross that could have been sneaking in, but the resulting corner led to a heartstopping moment as a shot from Khan was diverted by Baker-Re onto the post and cleared.

Both sides continued to pressure the other but as the game entered the final quarter, Luton ramped it up. First, Ray thwarted Leyah Maddix with a good save down low from close range. Amy Makewell was denied a potential penalty as Lilac Wilson had two hands on the back of the Boro’ striker as she jumped for a header. It wasn’t given and Luton countered.

Within moments, the hosts were level. A good pass back to Dickens on the edge of the area saw a shot that Ray had covered deflect from the outstretched leg of Edge, wrongfooting Ray and nestling in the back of the net. It was a cruel blow, but Luton may feel they had the ascendancy.

They certainly did for the next few minutes and Boro’ had to remain switched on to ensure they stayed level. The unlikely duo of Bodily and Kelsey Millen ensured the ball stayed out of the net from efforts by Khan and Eleanor Wade in quick succession.

Both sides heard shouts for penalties with Makewell again muscled off the ball by Wade, whilst Luton felt Matilda Thomas-O’Keefe had impeded Pearson, but neither were given. The game entered injury time and it was here that both sides saw players receive their marching orders. First – Pearson – for kicking the ball away after a double whistle by the referee down the other end of the field. This was followed by Baker-Re who took a shot just after the whistle which also constituted another yellow card.

As manager David Perry said afterwards “It wasn’t a game that should have seen two red cards.” In truth it interrupted a potentially titanic final ten minutes, where both sides were pushing forward and had the belief that they could steal the points. In the end, it faltered to a damp squib as the interruptions took the pace from the game. It was a magnificent contest and although both sides conceded ground to Real Bedford, who won again, it was a statement that these teams will not be easy to beat.

Luton  XI: Kopec-Knurek, Wade, Blacksley, Major, Pearson, Palmiero, Buttigieg, Dickens, McKay (c), Khan, Sanders

Sub: Corbett, Taylor, Lewis, Maddix, Wilson

Booked: McKay

Sent Off: Pearson

Goal: Dickens

Stevenage XI: Ray, Nebbitt, Brooks, Edge, Farmer, Schofield, Bodily (c), Baker-Re, Millen, Hendy, Gooderham

Subs: White, Makewell, Southby, Dempsey, Thomas-O’Keefe

Goal: Bodily

Sent off: Baker-Re

You can see Stevenage FCW in action in the Women’s FA Cup as they do battle with Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses on Sunday 1st October. Keep your eye on the social media platforms – Instagram, TikTok and X for more details - @stevenagefcw.

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