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On a day when the only other Premier League unbeaten record was unexpectedly swept away on Wearside, Liverpool did an efficient job of maintaining their 100% Northern Division tally at bottom of the table Luton Town, a 2-0 victory making it eleven out of eleven for the Merseysiders.
On a Biggleswade Town F C pitch which survived the morning downpour, the hosts put up a battling performance to restrict the leaders to a goal in each half, but are still seeking a first win in the division.
After Liverpool had opened confidently, it was the home side who had a great chance to take the lead in the ninth minute, when Reds debutant keeper Fable Widdop was out quickly to deny the Luton striker. Liverpool reacted strongly to this scare, with Alicia Hardacre shooting just wide and Cheryl Foster having a shot well held by Nikki Duncan when set up by Kelly Jones.
Liverpool continued to press forward, using slick interplay, with left back Vicky Jones raiding forward and Duncan made a great save on 24 minutes from a close range Foster shot from a cross. The goal which the Reds had threatened arrived on 32 minutes, when Kelly Jones finished after an exchange of passes with Foster. Liverpool had further efforts on goal from Katie Brusell, Foster and Kelly Jones, all well saved by Duncan before the break, the Hatters girls replying with a couple of long range efforts.
The pattern was similar in the second half, the whole Luton team working very hard to deny Liverpool but having to rely on occasional breakaways, for example a Candice Davies solo run on 51 minutes which was snuffed out by sheer weight of defenders and a Laveena Betts break which was stopped by Widdop again coming out well. For the most part, the Reds pressurised the home defence where Jody Lapish, Jessica Nash, Nicola Henman, Fay Howell and Michelle Byrne played very well to protect Duncan, who had a fine match.
On the hour, Foster sprung the offside trap to finish from 10 yards, but Luton did not buckle, despite a number of close calls. Duncan tipped an Anisha Bateman shot on to the bar on 80 minutes and Foster missed an open goal in the last minute but the result was no longer in doubt by then.
Luton were unfortunate to be placed in the Northern Division upon gaining promotion, which has meant a very taxing and expensive travelling schedule and they have had to dig deep into their outstanding youth squad because of injury and loss of players. They showed admirable resilience against a very impressive Liverpool team who were well drilled at the back, pacey and inventive up front and seem destined for a quick return to the National Division.
Luton Town: Nikki Duncan, Michelle Byrne, Nicola Henman, Jody Lapish, Fay Howell, Josephine Scully, Laveena Betts, Carly Cowell, Jessica Nash, Sarah Hawkins, Candice Davies. Subs: Michaela Taylor, Nicky Livingstone, Stephanie Anes.
Liverpool: Fable Widdop, Sam Chappell, Vicky Jones, Katie Williams, Jo Traynor, Carmel Burnett, Katie Brusell, Anisha Bateman, Cheryl Foster, Kelly Jones, Alicia Hardacre. Subs: Natalie Sage, Maddy Hills, Amie Fleming.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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