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Millwall Lionesses 1 Bristol Academy 2
Bristol Academy gained a place in the F A Women's Cup semi final with a 2-1 win away to Millwall Lionesses at Beckenham on Sunday, but they were made to work very hard for their victory by the National League team.
Millwall took an early lead and, whilst Academy had reversed this before the break with goals by Helen Bleazard and Jessica Fishlock, they could not add to their lead and Millwall went agonisingly close to equalising deep into added time.
The home team started with great purpose, penning Academy back and taking an early lead when a corner was not cleared and Kate Longhurst was free to drive home from ten yards on six minutes. Lindsay Morgan went close to doubling the lead on 14 minutes, heading a Meghan McKeag cross just wide.
Bristol responded with two efforts just wide, from Fishlock and Bleazard. Play was very even through the middle of the half and Bristol restored parity with Bleazard helping on a low Corinne Yorston free kick with a delicate header from all of 18 yards into the top left corner on 28 minutes.
Millwall keeper Debbie Cole then had to race from her line to deny Ann-Marie Heatherson as the WSL team created more chances. It was Heatherson, playing a neat through pass, who released Fishlock to finish calmly from 12 yards on 35 minutes.
The Lionesses immediately roared back on the attack, forcing a diving save from Siobhan Chamberlain and Alex Culvin clearing a header off the line from the resulting corner. Millwall themselves survived two further close calls as an exciting half drew to a close, with Academy a goal to the good.
Millwall set the tone within fifteen seconds of the restart, McKeag firing in a snap shot which Chamberlain tipped over. Academy thought they had extended their lead on 55 minutes but play was brought back for a free kick in their favour, which came to nothing.
Longhurst went close to equalising with header just wide on 68 minutes and Millwall gave their opponents no rest, contesting every ball fiercely. Despite this, Academy stood strong and forced Cole into good saves, from sub Anouk Hoogendijk with her first touch of the ball and from the outstanding Yorston, who led by example all game.
Millwall pushed on and caused Academy problems every time they delivered a high ball into the area, Chamberlain being forced to punch clear on several occasions. One such incident led to an almighty scramble with three efforts blocked before Naomi Cole fired over from distance.
The last and best chance also fell to Cole as Dionne Lennon flicked on a free kick but the left back was unable to keep her close range volley down from a tight angle and Academy saw out the last moments of an absorbing contest.
Bristol Academy join Arsenal, Liverpool and Cup specialists Barnet in the draw for the semi finals. Millwall have their London FA Cup final before a vital league match against title chasing Sunderland, with the Lionesses in need of points themselves to avoid relegation. If they show the same skill and spirit displayed in this match, they will give Arsenal and the Black Cats tough tests.
Millwall Lionesses: Debbie Cole, Dionne Lennon, Naomi Cole, Jordan Butler, Sinead Boyer, Danielle Puddefoot, Emma Beckett, Kate Longhurst, Lindsay Morgan, Meghan McKeag, Harley Bennett. Subs: Shelby Hills, Caitlin Fisher, Ellie Stenning, Shauni Griffiths.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Culvin, Alex Windell, Corinne Yorston, Jemma Rose, Helen Bleazard, Loren Dykes, Katie Daley, Michelle Green, Jessica Fishlock, Ann-Marie Heatherson. Subs: Grace McCatty, Anouk Hoogendijk, Lillie Bilson, Emma Jones, Molly Clark.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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