Before kick off a minute's silence took place to show our respect for those who lost their lives for next weekend's Armistice Day; Lest we forget. The minute's silence was also in respect for the tragedy that occurred at the King Power stadium.
Pride and passion was put back in Millwall's performance on what was a truly emotional day for everyone. After two back-to-back 8-0 defeats, most would have predicted Villa walking the game expecting Millwall to be very down, but the Lionesses did Millwall proud yesterday with 110% effort on the pitch in an attempt to win their first match. However, despite their best attempts it wasn't enough and goals in each half saw Millwall suffer their sixth defeat of the season.
Millwall started very brightly in the game and so too did the hosts. The two teams who have been struggling in the bottom two ahead of today's game knew just how much a win would mean for not only confidence, but in terms of league standings. An early chance arose for Millwall when striking duo Evie Clarke and Gabby Ravenscroft broke free, but Evie was unable to get on the end of the pass. It was a good start for the away side and Millwall were doing well.
The hosts had chances of their own early on. A few crosses evaded everyone and players at the back post not quite connecting with the ball, but Millwall were holding out well. With Villa slowly growing into the game, Chloe Sansom did well to hold onto a stinger of a shot but Villa eventually made the breakthrough just before the half an hour mark. Kerri Welsh headed home a good cross from Hollie Gibson and the header was too powerful for Sansom in the Lionesses goal. It was heartbreak for Millwall after some really good attacking play so far.
For the remainder of the first half it was very much a back-to-the-wall performance with Millwall trying to keep the score at just 1-0. Villa were not allowing Millwall much time on the ball and it was becoming very frustrating for the Lionesses. Chloe Sansom once again had to make some very good saves to deny the hosts a two goal lead, but as the first half whistle blew it was a much better performance from the players. They were still in this game if they could just create that one chance that would lead to that all-important goal.
The second half got underway and once again it was Millwall who started very brightly and nearly leveled almost immediately when awarded a free kick twenty yards from goal. Beth Lumsden, who scored a great free-kick against Leicester, stepped up but this time couldn't steer the ball on target as Millwall continued on the front foot. Despite the pressure and the willingness from the players, they then conceded a second against the run of play when West picked up the ball on the right and her effort from long range went straight into the right top corner. Villa now found themselves in a two-goal lead and Millwall now had it all to do with forty minutes left.
What happened from this goal though just showed how much every player wanted to play for the shirt. Forty minutes of relentless attacking, creating numerous opportunities in search of two goals that would mean everything to the team, the side just refused to be beaten down and charged and peppered Aston Villa's goal. Lucy Fitzgerald and Teni Charles showed some nice link up play down the right and were causing Villa problems with crosses into the box and on another day Millwall may have a had a draw.
The introduction of Lia Cataldo and Annie Rossiter showed the quality the side really have. The duo really added an attacking presence going forward and were creating opportunities for themselves and their team mates. Gabby Ravenscroft continued to cause all kinds of problems up top, firing shots goal-bound. The Villa 'keeper was holding onto all shots well as Millwall started to become frustrated, but kept on going until the end.
The game didn't have long left and Gabby Ravenscroft once again got herself into a really good position, but her shot flew wide of the near post. This allowed Villa to re-organise and settle their nerves as they knew they were only minutes away from their first league win of the season. Long balls continued to rain into the box from Beth Powell as Millwall hoped a bit of luck would fall on them in the closing stages. However, it wasn't to be and the result may not show it, but every player left everything they had on the pitch and on another day, the scoreline may have been turned around completely.
Millwall Lionesses Starting XI:
Sansom, Cowan, Powell, Priest, Charles, Giddings, Bailes (Rossiter 61), Fitzgerald, Lumsden (Cataldo 61), Clarke (Auguste 76), Ravenscroft
Millwall Lionesses unused subs: Taylor, Wilkinson
Aston Villa Starting XI:
Rogers, Gibson, Ale, N'Dow, Richards, West, Hassall, Haywood (Hutton 57), Hall, Welsh, Hanssen
Aston Villa unused subs: Aguirre, Elsmore, Gane, Smith, Brown, Warner