With a crossbar struck twice, three penalties awarded, a red card, a disallowed finish and five goals in 90 minutes, Millwall Lionesses’ visit to Leicester City was a pulsating game which had the fans of both sides happy they had braved the cold in the Midlands.
The match instantly sparked into life when a long range effort just a minute in had Millwall goalkeeper Chloe Sansom beat, but the woodwork kept the score at 0-0, however it wouldn’t be long until the Foxes took the lead. On the 2 minute mark, a lovely pass saw the ball land to Melissa Johnson who coolly slotted the ball passed Sansom to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
The game was a backwards and forwards affair with both sides committing to firm challenges and a fast paced fixture and in the 18th minute the Lionesses thought they had equalised when Michelle Young put the ball in the back of the net, but the referee called play back for an earlier foul in the build up.
Millwall kept the pressure on the hosts and Lucy Fitzgerald in particular was putting in a superb performance on the left hand side, but in the 26th minute a penalty was given after a late foul by Ylenia Priest during a Leicester attack. The ball was placed on the spot and Melissa Johnson stepped up to strike home, but Sansom excellently dived to her left to keep the ball out and keep the score line at 1-0.
In the 30th minute, our girls scored the equaliser their build up play had deserved when Evie Clarke headed home a gorgeous cross over the head of Lambourne in the Leicester goal. Millwall were back in the match and it was game on!
It wasn’t long until the hosts regained the lead when Ylenia Priest was harshly judged to have committed handball in her own penalty area and another spot kick was awarded in the 34th minute. Libby Smith put herself forward for penalty duties and struck the ball well into the back of Sansom’s net to restore the lead for the Foxes. This proved to be the last real piece of action in the first half and Leicester went in at the break 2-1 up.
After more hard tackles and a never-say-quit attitude from both sides, Leicester scored their third in the 53rd minute when Ella Franklin-Fraiture’s shot on the edge of the area beat the Millwall ‘keeper and increased the Foxes’ lead over the Lionesses to two goals.
Not to be disheartened by the score-line, Chris Phillips’ team kept up the pressure and Leanne Cowan in particular was getting involved in a number of Millwall’s attacks and defending on the left hand side.
The introduction of Beth Lumsden, Beth Harford and Lia Cataldo just added to the hard work of the Millwall side and it was the latter’s cross that led to the penalty awarded to the Lionesses in the 72nd minute and after tending to Cataldo who was injured in the build up, Evie Clarke dispatched her kick from twelve yards and made the score 3-2. Cataldo was unfortunately unable to continue after delivering her cross, and with Chris Phillips using all three of his subs, Millwall were down to ten players.
With the one player advantage, the Foxes found more space and in the 80th minute rattled the woodwork again from distance and in the 90th minute Freya Bailes was shown a second yellow card after a foul only seven minutes after receiving her first booking.
Several minutes of injury time was played after the referee brandished a number of cards to both sides in the closing minutes of the game, but the nine players of the Lionesses could not grab the equaliser and their brave and determined performance was not justified by the lack of points they picked up. The result may’ve been disappointing and frustrating, but Phillips and his staff will feel confident when Tottenham Hotspur visit Princes Park in a fortnight’s time.
Leicester City WFC:
Lambourne, Franklin-Fraiture, Jackson, Morgan, C. Clarke, M. Johnson (Dugmore 68), Ayisi, Worts (Axten 56), N. Johnson,
L.Johnson (McCue 62), Smith
Unused Subs: S.Clarke, Dominigo, James, Thomas
Sansom, Cowan, Bailes, Priest, Clarke, Stenning, Fitzgerald, Young (Cataldo 60), Rossiter (Lumsden 60), Ali (Harford 70), Neville
Unused Subs: Stewart, Mackie, Peart, Bailey