Tractor Girls hold off Hatters to close gap at the top
- Credit: Archant
FA Premier League South East Div One Ipswich Town 2 Luton Town 1 Ipswich Town Ladies cut the gap to leaders AFC Wimbledon to seven points with a crucial 2-1 victory over Luton Town at The Goldstar Ground in Felixstowe on Sunday as Cassie Craddock and top-scorer Natasha Thomas were on target for the Blues, writes Kieren Standley.
Town took the lead inside ten minutes with a well-worked team goal. Miagh Downey held the ball up before releasing Sophie Welton down the right channel, with the winger cutting the ball back for the arriving Craddock – who poked past Luton keeper Kezia Hassall.
Welton was again at the forefront as Town doubled their advantage. The Town winger caught her defender in possession before playing a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Thomas, who rounded Hassall, and slotted into an open net - her 23rd goal of the season.
The second-half started just as the first had ended, with very few chances and both sides struggling to get a foothold in the game. Luton began to rally and were awarded a penalty shortly after as Welton tripped Dionne Manning in the area. Hatters captain Zara Carroll stepped up but blasted her spot-kick well wide of the left post.
It wasn’t long before Town keeper’ Sian Fagg was called into serious action, with Jessica McKay denied twice by two outstanding tips over the bar from the Blues stopper.
McKay was once again presented with a glorious opportunity after a shot from distance crashed the bar but with the Hatters midfielder almost certain to follow up at the back-post, she was thwarted by the lightning quick reactions of Fagg who tipped her effort around the post.
Despite being denied three times by the outstanding Fagg, McKay would have one final opportunity to get herself on the score sheet but as had been the case with her previous efforts, found the Town custodian equal to her dipping volley.
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However, Luton did get themselves a consolation goal eight minutes into added-on time as Funmi Baba Lola stabbed home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.
The result sees the Blues sit seven points behind leaders AFC Wimbledon with a game in hand, and four points ahead of third-placed Leyton Orient. The Tractor Girls return to action on Sunday away at fifth-placed Stevenage.