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Women's Football News
Millwall Lionesses 1 Reading Women 2
Reading Women came from behind to progress to the Fourth Round of the FA Womens Cup at the expense of Millwall Lionesses at Meridian Sports Club.
This battle of WSL 2 rivals was highly committed and played at a frantic pace on a 3G surface conducive to passing football. The match was decided by a superb finish from Francesca Kirby with around 15 minutes to go to win a tie in which Reading always had the edge in attacking fluency but were denied by resolute defence from the Lionesses, particularly in the second half.
The home team had started strongly and had created good chances in an even first half. Emma Whitter had rattled Nicky Davies' post before giving Millwall the lead on 24 minutes. Poor defending on the left wing allowed Lillie Billson to cross for Whitter to place a stooping header past Davies. The pace of Kirby, Lauren Bruton and Helen Ward caused several scrambles in front of goal before Bruton equalised from the spot after she had been tripped making her way towards goal on 38 minutes.
Reading dominated the second half to he extent that Davies barely touched the ball after the break whereas Quantrill was regularly called upon to save from Kirby, Ward , Lois Roche and Kirsty McGee. Kirby hit the post after turning her marker and Millwall defended valiantly to clear a succession of crosses and remain competitive in the tie.
Just when extra time was starting to loom on the horizon, Reading got the winner their play deserved. Kirby run on to a loose ball and hit a looping long range drive first time, sending the ball into the top right corner, an effort worhy of winning the tie and setting up a home match against WPL Northern team Blackburn Rovers.
The most impressive feature of the match was the sheer pace, effort and commitment shown by both sets of players in their first competitive match for eight months. Ironically, these clubs had fought a season long battle for the WPL Southern division title last year with the decision going narrowly to Reading after a showdown at the Den. Here, in very different surroundings, with very different line ups on both sides, another fierce contest went the way of the Berkshie club.
Millwall Lionesses: Sarah Quantrill, Sophie Perry, Sinead Boyer, Dionne Lennon, Naomi Cole, Angela Kiobel, Stevie Lamb, Leeta Rutherford, Lillie Billson, Kim Stenning, Emma Whitter. Subs: Francesca Gibbs, Emma Plewa, Ciara Sherwood, Francesca Strugnell, Nicole Pepper, Shirvae Edwards, Shauni Griffiths.
Reading Women: Nicky Davies, Becky Jane, Alexandra Keown, Ciara Grant, Shelly Cox, Lois Roche, Kirsty McGee, Georgina Giddins, Lauren Bruton, Helen Ward, Francesca Kirby. Subs: Grace Moloney, Leigh Nicol, Stacey Wiggins, Georgia Hayes, Melissa Fletcher.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Francesca Kirby skips a tackle from Dionne Lennon
(middle) Angela Kiobel battles with Lauren Bruton
(bottom) Stevie Lamb and Georgie Giddings in the thick of the action
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