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Leeds Carnegie took another step towards mounting a title challenge with an impressive 4-0 win over Millwall Lionesses at Beckenham.
Ellen White celebrated her call up to the full international squad with a hat trick and the northerners missed a number of other chances to have embarrassed the Lionesses with a stunning series of speedy counter attacks which put Carnegie forwards clean through on goal and set piece plays where Carla Cantrell's pinpoint delivery often put Claire Lacey's goal in danger. In contrast, Carly Telford was only really troubled twice, despite some impressive build up play at times from the home team.
Leeds started on the front foot, twice forcing Lacey into hurried clearances from back passes before White guided a delicate header from twelve yards into the bottom corner on seventeen minutes for the lead. Mel Sutcliffe shot over when clean through and Sue Smith scuffed a shot straight at Lacey from a similar position.
The nearest Millwall came to an equaliser was a Dionne Lennon header which went wide from a free kick when Telford was adjudged to have taken a catch while outside her area.
Lionesses carved out two good right wing moves straight on the restart with Emma Whitter testing the defence and keeper but Leeds added a beautiful second goal on 52 minutes. Breaking up a Millwall attack on the edge of their own area, a five player move left Sutcliffe free to volley home from six yards out.
White then pounced on a defensive error on the hour which left her clear to shoot past Lacey and seven minutes later, White glanced in a Cantrell free kick to complete a fine treble and she left the field to allow Steph Houghton to continue her comeback from long term injury with a cameo performance.
Telford made a fine save from a corner under severe pressure and Lizzie Edwards went close but it was Carnegie who finished the stronger, with both Cantrell and substitute Letesha Cannonier firing over on 87 and 88 minutes when well placed and Lacey making two fine stops to prevent an overly harsh scoreline.
Millwall have three meetings with Arsenal in the next three weeks, starting with the London FA Senior Cup Final on Tuesday while Carnegie have two potentially decisive meetings with the Gunners amongst the ten League matches which they need to squeeze into the last nine weeks of the season.
Millwall Lionesses: Claire Lacey, Dionne Lennon, Jordan Butler, Carly Eagles, Sarah Jones, Sinead Boyer, Angela Kiobel, Lizzie Edwards, Emma Whitter, Emma Beckett, Lindsey Morgan. Subs: Victoria Boardman, Sokhara Goodall, Katy Ling.
Leeds Carnegie: Carly Telford, Sophie Bradley, Laura Bassett, Rachel Daly, Katie Holtham, Sophie Walton, Mel Sutcliffe, Jade Moore, Ellen White, Carla Cantrell, Sue Smith. Subs: Julianna Draycott, Steph Houghton, Nat Staneff, Gemma Bonner, Letesha Cannonier.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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