A stunning free-kick by Marie Gauntlett helped Coventry United Ladies achieve a 3-0 victory over MK Dons Ladies when they visited Stadium MK on Sunday.
The Dons fell behind in the 19th minute of the match as Coventry United defender Chenise Austin’s looping shot was able to beat Sophie Shults between the sticks.
Coventry then proceeded to quickly double their lead from a free-kick as Gauntlett fired the ball into the top-right corner from 30-yards-out.
The visitors sealed their win in the 61st minute as Louis Jefferies fired the ball home after Gauntlett was denied her second goal of the game due to her effort hitting the post.
The Dons’ opponents had a few more chances to extend their lead but were denied by Shults who kept the score at 3-0 until the final whistle blew.
Both sides started the game brightly with Coventry United eventually winning the battle for possession.
However, they weren’t able to create any clear-cut chances during the opening 15 minutes of the game with the Dons pressing them for the ball every time.
Though it didn’t take long for Coventry to make their possession count as Austin fired a hopeful looping ball into the box which deceived Shults and ended up giving Coventry United the lead.
The Dons tried to instantly respond and thought they successfully had after Burgess headed home a cross from close-range, but she was deemed to have been offside.
Kim Farrow came close to grabbing the equaliser moments later after the ball was whipped across the goal just in front of her but she wasn’t able to get a touch on it to guide it towards goal.
Following this, Coventry went on the attack and were awarded a free-kick 30-yards from goal, which Gauntlett expertly stepped up to take and fire into the top-right corner.
Once again the Dons tried to respond positively to conceding a goal as Kerry Newman burst down the flank before whipping the ball across the face of the goal but Farrow was beaten to the ball by the Coventry defence.
The Dons went into the break 2-0 down and nearly conceded a third a minute into the second-half as Gauntlett tried her luck from distance only to have the crossbar deny her.
Shults was then forced into making an unorthodox save to keep the score at 2-0 as Jefferies nearly found herself with a one-on-one opportunity following a long goal kick.
The Dons keeper could do nothing to stop Jefferies getting her goal minutes later though as after Gauntlett saw her shot from distance hit the post, the Coventry forward calmly slotted home the rebound to make it 3-0.
The Dons opted to use all three of their substitutions before the game ended, with Leah Cudone coming off the bench to go close with a curling effort from distance.
Despite their best efforts though, the Dons weren’t able to stop Coventry securing a clean sheet to go with their victory as the referee blew the full-time whistle to see the game end 3-0 in the visitor’s favour.
Assistant Dons coach Charlie Bill spoke briefly after the game and shared what the team had learnt from Saturday’s performance, as well as the side’s defeat to Plymouth Argyle last weekend.
“The ladies executed the game plan well today. We felt we matched Coventry in the first half but weren’t ruthless enough,” stated Bill.
“The longer the game went on the more it played into Coventry’s hands as space opened up and they showed what a good team they are in possession.
“These first two weeks have been a valuable lesson for the ladies to learn and the step up in class that is needed, we are moving in the right direction and know it won’t be long until the points match the good performances.”
Starting XI: Shults, Doyle (c), Newman (Boote, 81), Clarke, Burgess, Hughes, McDonnell (Cudone,64), Littlechild, Naylor (Wright, 71), Farrow, Martin.
Unused subs: Kirby