MK Dons Ladies made it through to the Second Round of the FA Women’s Cup with a 2-1 win over local rivals Luton Town at stadiummk on Sunday afternoon.
John Dyer’s side came from a goal down to secure a victory over their Bedfordshire counterparts thanks to goals from Hannah Barret and Bryony Levitt.
The Dons started brightly and it was their striker Emily Mann who was the first to test the hands of ‘keeper Hollie Staples, when she cut inside on her right foot on the corner of the 18-yard box and curled an effort on goal which was well claimed by the Hatters number 1.
The Dons continued to cause problems and almost took the lead in the 10th minute when Leah Cudone did well to adjust her position and meet Mann’s deep cross but her looping header bounced off the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
Cudone, then had another chance to open the scoring seven minutes later but her off-balanced effort from range never really trouble Staples who easily collected low to her left.
It took until the 20th minute for the visitors to have their first chance on goal courtesy of Lauren Goodier, who managed to break through the resolute Dons backline however the winger’s low shot was well saved by Trip Witney.
The chance seemed to inspire the visitors, who had another opportunity soon after when Michelle Byrne was able to beat Witney to a through-ball, but fortunately for the home side the striker’s effort could only find the side netting.
And it was the Bedfordshire outfit who found the opening goal thanks to Bryne, after the striker was in the right place at the right time to stab home into an empty net after Witney could only parry a fierce shot from Laura Day.
The Dons then, straight away, went in search of an equaliser and almost found it immediately through their skipper Barret, but after the midfielder found room on the edge of the area she could only curl her shot wide of the post.
The leveller did come, though, on the stroke of half-time when Barret once again found herself with plenty of space 25-yards out and this time the Ladies captain made no mistake, curling an effort over Staples and into the top corner to make it 1-1 at the break.
The Dons Ladies almost went ahead in the 51st minute when a dangerous-looking cross was missed by the Luton defenders however Cudone, at the back post, couldn’t quite meet it, as the ball as it trickled out for a goal-kick.
Town then had a chance of their own minutes later when Day was allowed to get a free shot away 20-yards out but the impressive Witney was equal to it.
The Dons goalie was called into action once again on the hour mark, getting down to low to smother at the feet of Day, after the lively forward had sneaked in behind Tammy Scrivens and Carissa Koworoski.
Witney’s two saves became all the more important in the 75th minute when the Dons took the lead thanks to substitute Levitt, who latched onto a deep cross from the left to head past the helpless Luton goalie.
Dyer’s Ladies almost stretched their advantage five minutes later when Heather McDonnell drove deep into Luton territory but, after doing the hard-work, her tame effort was saved.
The Dons should have wrapped up the game in the 87th minute when a speculative long-range effort from Barret rebounded off the crossbar straight to Levitt who somehow saw her 3-yard shot stopped by Staples.
Levitt had a chance to make amends moments later when she broke clear of the static Luton back-line, but her right-footed effort just skimmed the post as it slid wide.
Thankfully it didn’t matter, as the Dons Ladies held on to the slender lead and booked their place in the next round of the FA Women’s Cup.
MK Dons Ladies (4-3-1-2): Witney; Betts (Linnell 38), Scrivens, Koworoski, Henton; Dacosta (Tarrent 78), Barret, Wright; McDonnell; Cudone, Mann (Levitt 65).
Subs: Mulvihill, Turner.
Goals: Barret 45, Levitt 75