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Millwall Lionesses saw off the challenge of Northern Division opponents Leicester City with a three-goal burst in ten minutes either side of half time in their F.A.Womens Cup Fourth Round tie at Blaby.
After a bright first half where Leicester played really well, a scrambled goal thirty seconds before the break was a sickener for the locals and they never really got to grips with the lively Lionesses attack in the second half, where two quick strikes settled the contest in the Londoners' favour. Millwall could easily have added more but the frame of the goal denied them on three further occasions.
On a pitch which showed no adverse effects from the recent severe weather, Leicester opened brightly, moving the ball around crisply and feeding their lively front duo of Maz Gauntlett and Hannah Smith. Only an excellent Meghan McKeag tackle denied Smith as she shaped to shoot in the 15th minute and the same player curled a shot just wide from the edge of the area on 27 minutes.
However, the visitors were starting to find space on the right where Leah Jones had an effective game. She crossed for Ann Marie Heatherson to place a header just wide on 29 minutes and then Heatherson struck the angle of post and bar from distance.
Both teams were playing attractive passing football in an even half and Millwall scarcely deserved the lead which Victoria Boardman gave them from close range after a corner was not cleared on the stroke of half time.
The crucial second goal was scored within two minutes of the restart. A low right wing cross bounced awkwardly in front of Leanne Hall who parried the ball straight to Heatherson for a simple finish.
The home side nearly reduced the lead immediately as a corner put Claire Lacey under pressure, the Millwall keeper pushed the ball on to the post and the rebound just evaded the Foxes attackers. The value of cool finishing was emphasised though on 54 minutes when another right wing cross from Jones caused confusion in the home defence and Heatherson slotted home after Natasha Meade had blocked her initial effort on the line.
Millwall's back four had a far better grip on the home forwards in the second half and most of the chances came the way of the Lionesses in the last half hour. Lindsey Morgan hit the bar twice, once with a long range shot and then with a near post header from a corner. Hall made two fine saves from the ever dangerous Heatherson, who also set up sub Angela Kiobel to shoot over from six yards as Millwall finished the stronger team.
Millwall will have a wait to see which of three potential opponents await them in the fifth round - Preston North End, Liverpool or Chelsea. After a bright start to the season, their results had dipped before the recent enforced break but they showed good form after a slow start. Leicester City, a club which was playing County League football five years ago, have plenty of Northern Division games left, a Super League application in place and lots of talented youngsters who are following in the footsteps of Rachel Williams, Remi Allen and Jade Radburn who have moved to top flight clubs in the recent past.
Leicester City: Leanne Hall, Zira Handley, Katie McLaughlin, Natasha Meade, Jemma Butler, Chloe Jones, Katie Lowder, Rachel Stowell, Maz Gauntlett, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Hannah Smith. Subs: Kirsty Robson, Mary Earps, Nicole Dale, Kirsty Linnett.
Millwall Lionesses: Claire Lacey, Dionne Lennon, Meghan McKeag, Emma Beckett, Sarah Jones, Sinead Boyer, Leah Jones, Victoria Boardman, Ann Marie Heatherson, Lindsey Morgan, Lauren Philllips. Subs: Lizzie Edwards, Jordan Butler, Angela Kiobel, Charlotte Gurr.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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