Watford 1-2 Millwall Lionesses - Lionesses roar back to win first League Cup game
WATFORD 1-2 MILLWALL LIONESSES
The FA Women’s Super League Continental Cup Group One
Sunday 6 July 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Broadwater
MILLWALL LIONESSES came from behind to win their first Continental Cup Group game at the fourth attempt.
Alberto Kurti’s side leapfrogged over opponents Watford into fourth place out of six teams after winning 2-1 at the home of Spartan South Midlands League side Berkhamsted.
Watford, who enjoyed plenty of possession throughout, took the lead through Megan Wynne, before Millwall Lionesses roared back with goals from striker Kim Stenning and substitute Stevie Lamb.
Millwall Lionesses went into this game sitting one place above Watford in fourth-place in the Women’s Super League Two table, but a compact midfield ensured goalscoring chances were at a premium during the first half.
Watford, nicknamed the Golden Girls, were vocally supported by a group of flag waving and drum banging fans, who gave their side excellent support before, during and after this Group One game.
Watford created the opening chance when Josie Green played the ball inside to Katie Natkiel, but the winger curled her first time shot harmlessly wide from 25-yards.
Player-of-the-match Emma Beckett stung the fingers of Millwall Lionesses’ goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill with a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which the keeper prevented the ball flying into the top corner to save at the second attempt.
Watford’s lone striker, Jo Wilson, progressed down the right – where Watford were most dangerous – to cut the ball back for Chloe Gunn to roll her shot into Quantrill’s hands at the near post.
Millwall Lionesses ventured forward in the 14th minute when Ciara Sherwood won her midfield battle against Watford left-back Ellie Butterwick to run forward but her low cross was cut out by Watford keeper Shayla Burgess at her near post.
Watford skipper and set-piece specialist Cally Rowell drilled her right-footed free-kick over the crossbar from 26-yards.
But Millwall just couldn’t break through a solid looking Watford defensive back four, which were well protected by five midfield players, who were dangerous on the break down the right through Wilson and Natkiel.
Millwall Lionesses midfielder Sophie Perry played a delightful diagonal pass but Lillie Fenlon-Billson was ambitious with a looping right-footed hooked volley, which dropped down for Burgess to catch yards away from her goal-mouth.
But Millwall Lionesses were twice to be denied by the crossbar in the space of two minutes.
Firstly, Fenlon-Billson brought the ball down under her spell before hooking a right-footed shot on the turn, which sailed over Burgess’ head and skimmed the top of the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
Then, left-back Meghan McKeag was given time and space to unleash a left-footed drive from 35-yards, which also sailed over the stranded keeper’s head and crashed against the crossbar.
These couple of near misses inspired Millwall to perform better , but they saw Rowell try her luck with a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards, which drifted harmlessly wide.
Watford were dangerous through some excellent deliveries from Rowell and after the Millwall keeper punched the ball under severe pressure the ball dropped to Beckett who hooked the ball across goal and narrowly past the far post.
Millwall Lionesses made a couple of substitutions at the break, bringing on two new central midfielders in the shape of Leeta Rutherford and Lilly Agg and switched formation from a defensive 4-5-1 to a more attacking 4-4-2.
This had the desired effect as Agg cracked a speculative right-footed half-volley towards the far corner from 35-yards, which forced Burgess to step to her right to make the save.
A long throw into the Millwall penalty area from Wynne was met on the head by Wilson at the far post, which bounced wide.
Rowell then swung in a hanging free-kick towards the edge of the Lionesses’ penalty area and fans’ favourite Beckett glanced her header wide.
But Watford deservedly opened the scoring in the 62nd minute.
A long throw came into the penalty area where Wynne ghosted in front of her marker to steer the ball past Quantrill to find the right-hand corner.
However, the Lionesses came back to life and Lilly Maple issued Watford a warming when she drilled a left-footed shot towards the corner from 22-yards, which forced Burgess to dive to her right to tip around the post.
Millwall Lionesses restored parity by equalising only six minutes after going a goal behind.
Fenlon-Benson clipped the ball into the Watford penalty area, which was knocked down by Perry and Stenning looped a left-footed shot towards the far corner from 22-yards.
However, Burgess dived to her left and allowed the ball to slip through her fingers to find the far corner.
Millwall Lionesses pressed for the winner and another fine pass from Fenlon-Billson released striker Stenning through on goal but she lacked composure whilst inside the penalty box and drilled her left-footed shot over the bar.
Watford went close to winning the game when Beckett almost capped off an excellent display with a goal, but her right-footed free-kick from 35-yards sailed agonisingly wide of the top of the far post.
Millwall Lionesses ended two games without a win by grabbing the winner seven minutes from time.
McKeag whipped in an excellent cross from inside the Watford half, which sailed over the two central defenders. Lamb brought the ball under control inside the penalty area before stroking her left-footed shot across Burgess to find the far corner.
Watford pressed for the equalising goal – these two sides drew 2-2 here in their first league game of the season on 16 April.
Another quality delivery from Rowell came in from the right and Beckett planted her header over the crossbar from six-yards.
Rowell turned provider again, this time not from a dead-ball, by releasing Natkiel through on goal and her low shot was pushed around the near post by keeper Quantrill.
Quantrill came off her line at the death and was relieved to see the ball roll just past the post after Wilson was put through on goal and only had the Millwall keeper to beat.
Watford: Shayla Burgess, Georgia Mays, Ellie Butterwick, Chloe Gunn, Megan Wynne, Renee Hector, Emma Beckett, Cally Rowell, Jo Wilson, Josie Green (Emily Heaslip 79), Kate Natkiel.
Subs: Deger Zekai, Stacie Donnelly, Paige Logie, Ella Hill
Goal: Megan Wynne 62
Millwall Lionesses: Sarah Quantrill, Naomi Cole, Meghan McKeag, Lilly Maple, Kylie Davies, Dionne Lennon (Stevie Lamb 58), Sophie Perry, Ciara Sherwood (Lilly Agg 46), Kim Stenning, Snezana Malesevic (Leeta Rutherford 46), Lillie Fenlon-Billson.
Subs: Cherrelle Albert, Angela Kiobel, Shervae Edwards, Frankie Strugnell
Goals: Kim Stenning 68, Stevie Lamb 83
Referee: Mr Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire)
Assistants: & Mr Ian Lowe (Wendover, Buckinghamshire) &
Mr Dennis Elkins (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire)