Despite an impressive display from the Lionesses, Arsenal showed their class in the space of a five minute period which turned the game on it’s head, as they collected all three points and topped the League Cup group and advanced to the quarter-finals.
The visitors, as expected, started strong showing their class - keeping hold of the ball with quick movements and passing as they searched for a way inside Millwall's back-line. Arsenal, who came into this game as huge favourites, had the first attempt of the game with six minutes on the clock as a ball dragged back into the area from wide, but the Gunner's attack was smashed over the bar as Millwall were let off due to nerves.
Miedema don’t need an introduction. Millwall boss, Chris Phillips stated that he thinks she is the best striker in the world and could have scored early on, but her effort was on the wrong side of the cross bar. Arsenal were pushing hard at Millwall, but the Lionesses were refusing to sit back and allow Arsenal to find the opener.
It took Millwall seventeen minutes to register their first shot. Good play saw Lia Cataldo skip past two Arsenal players. A player who has been rejuvenated since moving to right back, Lia fed through Gabby Ravenscroft, but the striker’s long range drive was no real trouble for the Arsenal 'keeper.
If you had looked at the form and league tables before the game, most wouldn’t have given Millwall even a sniff of a chance, but the Lionesses continued to be brave, putting their bodies on the line and making themselves big and strong to not allow the Gunners to get through.
Arsenal kept up their pressure and their fans were in good voice, but were silenced just after the half an hour mark. A true bit of class from Gabby Ravenscroft sent the Millwall fans into ecstasy. Evie Clarke fed through the striker who masterfully chipped the ball over and past the keeper into the empty net giving Millwall a surprise lead and a goal which made Princes Park shake.
Millwall had ten minutes to go until half time and Chris wanted to see his side manage the game professionally and stick to the game plan. Arsenal continued to dominate the possession, but Lenny Priest and Georgie Giddings were refusing to allow them to get anywhere near to Chloe Samson’s goal. The half-time whistle went and a massive round of applause from the home faithful could be heard from a mile away.
Arsenal would have to come out in the second half and continue to pressure. Millwall continued to defend well but a 5 minute spell all but turned the game on it’s head and sent the visitors mad. In the 55th minute Arsenal were level through Miedema who fired into the far corner. Then a minute later, Millwall found themselves behind when Ruby Grant smashed past Chloe Samson from range to give the visitors the lead. Millwall has gone from a winning to losing position in a matter of minutes and it got worse three minutes later when Leah Williamson met a cross and headed home to make it 3-1.
A five minute spell which had all but killed Millwall's chances of getting anything from the game, but Millwall didn’t change their game plan. They continued to play the same way that got them in the lead and got the fans proud of their performance. Arsenal held the ball for large spells, but Millwall were dealing very well with it all.
The ref blew for full time. For the players it would have been hard to take, but such a positive performance to take into 2019 and a marker of what they can achieve in the new year.
Sansom, Cowan, Bailes, Priest (Peart 89), Ravenscroft (Bailey 83), Cataldo, Clarke, Giddings, Fitzgerald, Young (Rossiter 62), Ali.
Unused Subs: Hartshorne, Lumsden, Stenning, Harford
Peyraud-Magnin, Dawbarn, Williamson, Walti, McCabe, Van de Donk (Albuquerque 84), Kuyken, Grant (Filis 72), Bailey-Gayle (Paul), Miedema, Evans.
Unused Subs: van Veenendaal, Hazard