A young Lionesses side made the short trip to North London where they competed against Enfield Town Ladies at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. After a hectic few weeks where there has been plenty of comings and goings, would this youthful and new look side be able to step up to this challenge? Luckily for new First Team Coach Chris Phillips, they had Leanne Cowan in their line-up.
The game started brightly for the Lionesses and it was Cowan, named skipper for the game, who was linking up superbly with her team mates down the left wing. A free-kick was won on the edge of the Enfield box early in the game and this effort was diverted wide for a Lioness corner. Step up Evie Clarke! The corner was lofted into the box, Clarke rose above all others around her and her header thundered off the underside of the crossbar and across the goal line. 1-0 to Millwall and an excellent start from the young side.
Next it was Georgie Giddings' turn to show the youngsters how it was done. Like a chess master putting all of the pieces in the perfect positions, Giddings moved like a Queen and ensured that every Enfield attack was stopped and if it wasn't for a couple of inches then her long range effort would have put the Lionesses 2-0 up.
Giddings and Cowan were showing their experience and their calming attitude on the ball radiated from them to their young players. Linking up excellently again, the ball was cut inside but the 20-yard effort from Millwall rattled the woodwork.
Against the run of play, Enfield managed to get an equaliser. An Enfield corner came in and after a goal mouth scramble, it was an Enfield boot that got on the end of it and fired the ball past Grace Taylor. The young goalkeeper had re-joined the Lionesses after a short spell at London Bees, but unfortunately she was powerless to keep a clean sheet on her returning debut.
Cowan again took the game by the scruff of the neck and was a constant menace with her runs and pinpoint crosses, but unfortunately for the Lionesses, these crosses were just cut out by the Enfield back-line. Giddings tried another long shot from distance and the impressive Beth Powell also had a goal ruled out by the referee in a frustrating first half, before Enfield came close to taking the lead. The Lionesses offside trap was beaten and the Enfield centre forward only had Taylor to beat, but although the young Lioness in goal was defeated, the ball just snuck wide of the far post.
One minute into the second half and all the hard work that the Lionesses had produced paid off. An exquisite finish from Lucy Fitzgerald was too much for the Enfield 'keeper and her long range effort put Millwall 2-1 up.
Enfield simply could not deal with the early second half bombardment from the Lionesses. The North London side managed to block an attack for a corner, but the short corner and low cross was too much and Michelle Young put the Lionesses 3-1 from close range.
Millwall had another chance disallowed before Freya Bailes finished the game with the Lionesses' fourth. A deflected pass found it's way to the feet of the youngster, who coolly slotted the ball past the Enfield goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
There were a few heart-in-mouth moments when some defensive lapses in concentration almost resulted in the Lionesses conceding, but this would have been unfair on Chris Phillips' side who dominated the game throughout.
The final whistle sounded to signify checkmate and the young Millwall side were victorious. There have been a lot of players leave the South London side in recent weeks and there has been a lot of questions whether those brought into the first team fold can step up to the challenge, but this was an exciting game with many positives to take.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
The skipper put in a superb performance and showed real leadership on the field. Constantly talking, always guiding her team mates, getting involved in some meaty tackles and chasing down every single ball, Cowan has already staked her claim to the captain's armband and very few can argue against this after this victory.