Baker finds the positives in friendly defeat

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Pre-season friendly: Leicester City Women 2 Luton Town Ladies 1

Luton Town Ladies were beaten in their opening pre-season game at the weekend, although the performance gave manager Nikki Baker plenty of positives.

The visitors took a very young squad that included seven teenagers and six debutants to the Northern Premier League side and started brightly.

They were unlucky not to be 2-0 up in the opening 10 minutes as 16-year old Jodie Bellinger had a superb goal controversially ruled out for offside, and stand in captain Zara Carroll hit the bar from a free kick.

Jo Rutherford then fired just wide from an indirect set-piece, while Bellinger forced the home keeper into another save, before teenage left back Asia Brown had a penalty decision turned down.

However, it was the home team who went ahead when a long looked to be easily dealt with by Amy Summerfield, before she appeared to be fouled allowing the Ipswich striker to slot past 16-year-old keeper Grace Brookes.

The Luton stopper then made a fine save from a free kick, as the visitors equalised when last year’s player of the season Nicola Henman rounded her player to score from close range after a superb pass from Dionne Manning.

In the second period, Leicester began to find their feet a bit more and tried to trouble Town’s two teenage full backs, but both Rebecca Ferris and Charlotte Motto, products of the Hatters’ successful youth team, stood firm.

Brookes made another superb stop from a one against one, before on the hour mark, Leicester went ahead as although Town’s keeper showed excellent reactions to stop the first effort, she could do nothing about the follow up.

The Hatters continued to press for another leveller as Henman was denied by the crossbar, while Manning thought she had won a penalty only for the appeals to be waved away.

Speaking afterwards, Baker said: “I am so impressed and pleased with the girls after the performance.

“We dominated a team from the league above us and should have won.

“Results aren’t massively important in pre-season, but what I saw was excellent.

“We had seven teenagers, several of them just 16, and it just shows how much depth we have coming through. I am hugely excited for this season and to see what these girls can do.”

Luton travel to Worthing United Ladies this weekend.