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Portsmouth 1 Millwall Lionesses 4
A superb Lillie Billson hat-trick saw Millwall Lionesses through to the last sixteen of the FA Women's Cup at the expense of Portsmouth at Fareham Town.
Two perfect long range strikes interspersed by a strong run and shot proved the difference between the sides in a highly competitive encounter which Portsmouth dominated for long periods only to be hit with clinical finishing by the FAWSL 2 team. Gemma Hillier had halved the deficit with a superb effort of her own but Millwall ended the match strongly, adding a fourth late on.
The FAWPL Southern Division hosts dominated the early stages, Molly Clark going very close with an early free kick and Charley Wilson firing a half chance over the bar but Millwall scored with their first attack on 15 minutes, Billson beating a challenge before striking a 25-yard shot beyond Sadie Blakely's dive into the top right corner of the goal.
Portsmouth were very close to equalising when a Clark corner caused panic with the ball striking the upright before being scrambled away. However, Billson doubled the visitors' advantage with an expert low finish after being sent clear of the last defender on 23 minutes.
Despite continued pressure, Pompey were vulnerable to the pace of Millwall's counter attacking and only a fine Blakely save from Rinsola Babajide on 34 minutes kept the deficit to two. Leeta Rutherford went close with a header from a corner but was Hillier who reduced the arrears with a clever chipped finish on 40 minutes after some good footwork on the left corner of the box.
Lionesses keeper Frankie Gibbs kept them in front at the break with a great reaction save when Wilson blasted a close range effort towards her.
Portsmouth poured forwards after the break, with Hillier twice finding good positions on the left but they were again rocked by a stunning Billson goal. If anything, this was even better than the first two with instant control and a perfect strike into the same corner of Blakely's goal as the first effort.
Portsmouth continued undeterred and laid siege to the visitors goal. Rutherford netted from a corner but just after play had been halted for a nasty looking injury to Lily Agg, which led to the Lionesses' forward being stretchered off. Pompey sub Sarah Kempson made an immediate impact with a goalbound effort being blocked, then she floated in an inviting free kick which Wilson headed over from eight yards. Another Kempson cross after good work from Ini Umatong down the left gave Lucy Quinn a chance, but she was crowded out at the far post.
Millwall had offered little in attack since the third goal but they made the game safe on 79 minutes. A free kick 20 yards out on the right was struck straight through the wall and past a helpless Blakely by Frankie Strugnell.
The visitors then finished strongly and nearly gave the score a totally unrealistic look on two occasions with shots narrowly wide but Pompey had the final chance of the match when Kempson was denied by another fine Gibbs save low to her left when played on the edge of the area.
Millwall had defended very well with central defenders Dionne Lennon and Naomi Cole alert to counter the very real threat posed throughout the match by the Portsmouth attack. The Lionesses had always held the advantage, courtesy of Billson's outstanding finishing, but were made to work very hard by a spirited Pompey display which more than matched them in every other way.
Portsmouth: Sadie Blakely, Jess Frampton, Leeta Rutherford, Tiff Taylor, Nadine Bazan, Lucy Quinn, Molly Clark, Chloe Dark, Charley Wilson, Ini Umatong, Gemma Hillier. Subs: Sarah Kempson, Eilidh Currie, Courtney Trodd, Shannon Seivwright, Ellie Bloomfield.
Millwall Lionesses: Frankie Gibbs, Frankie Strugnell, Dionne Lennon, Naomi Cole, Megan Goss, Grace Fisk, Leanne Cowan, Ciara Sherwood, Lily Agg, Lillie Billson, Rinsola Babajide. Subs: Sarah Quantrill, Cherrelle Albert, Shirvae Edwards, Lilli Maple, Francesca Ali.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Leeta Rutherford and Jess Frampton close down Rinsola Babajide
(middle) Charley Wilson tries to get in a shot past Ciara Sherwood
(bottom) Dionne Lennon is up against Ini Umatong
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