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Millwall Lionesses 0 Doncaster Rovers Belles 0
Doncaster Rovers Belles lost their top place and their 100% record in WSL2 after a goalless draw away to Millwall Lionesses at Beckenham Town FC.
The Belles pushed forward for virtually the whole match but were kept at bay by an outstanding performance by the home defence and midfield. The best chances came largely from set pieces as Millwall stuck to their defensive duties so resolutely that opportunities from open play became increasingly rare.
With Sue Smith popping up all over the pitch probing for openings, the Belles' best play was in the opening half hour. Debutant Courtney Sweetman-Kirk was wide with a header on 12 minutes and an effort from Jess Sigsworth was well saved by Sarah Quantrill. Rhiannon Roberts and Leandra Little were both unable to convert headers as Belles won a succession of corners. The best moment of the half was a Smith strike from 25 yards which was dipping under the bar until Quantrill tipped the ball over at full stretch on 30 minutes.
Little had been seen of the Lionesses attack and Nicola Hobbs had been untroubled in the opening 45 minutes. The pattern was repeated after the break but Millwall had by now sharpened their defensive responses even more. Outstanding displays from Francesca Strugnell, Kylie Davies, Dionne Lennon and Naomi Cole denied a series of promising positions with tackles, blocks and effective covering.
It looked increasingly likely that a set piece for the head of Little, Roberts or substitute Victoria Williams would be the most profitable route to break down the Millwall defiance.
The best chances came late in the half as Belles sought the win to regain their top spot. A rare defensive slip let in Sigsworth but Strugnell saved the day with an excellent last ditch tackle. A final corner flew agonisingly over Little and Roberts volleyed wide at full stretch on the far post. Millwall even had a half chance to steal all three points when substitute Angela Kiobel raced clear deep into additional time but her shot was high and wide.
It was easy to see why Doncaster are riding high and matching Sunderland win for win till today. Strong positive attackers and direct runners, allied to aerial threat and excellent set piece delivery make dominance likely in most matches. Kasia Lipka acting as cover for an experienced defensive unit meant that Millwall were unable to mount many effective counter attacks. All the more credit to the Lionesses who backed up their 'We Fear no Foe' motto with a committed and strong display to earn a point.
Millwall Lionesses: Sarah Quantrill, Naomi Cole, Francesca Strugnell, Shirvae Edwards (sub Snezana Malesevic 45mins), Kylie Davies, Dionne Lennon, Leeta Rutherford, Lillie Fenlon-Billson, Kim Stenning (sub Angela Kiobel 60mins), Cherrelle Albert (sub Stevie Lamb 70mins), Lilli Maple.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Lauren Cresswell, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Jess Sigsworth, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Millie Bright (sub Victoria Williams 60mins), Beth England (sub Ashleigh Mills 60mins).
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Naomi Cole challenges Kasia Lipka
(middle) Cherrelle Albert gets in a tackle on Jess Sigsworth
(bottom) Lyndsey Cunningham battles for the ball with Cherrelle Albert
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