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Millwall Lionesses 3 Nottingham Forest 1
Millwall Lionesses claimed a place in the last sixteen of the SSE Women's FA Cup with a hard fought win over FA WPL Northern Division side Nottingham Forest.
With the tie balanced at one apiece in the final ten minutes, debutant striker Ashley Cheatley grabbed a crucial second for Millwall, then Ashlee Hincks sealed the home team's progress with her second of the match. Both teams had created a number of chances throughout an open and entertaining encounter but Millwall had the edge in quality finishing against a Forest team who matched their WSL 2 opponents in every other respect.
Millwall started really well and threatened Aja Aguirre's goal several times in the opening minutes. The Forest keeper made a fine low save to push away Amber Gaylor's shot early on, Bonnie Horwood struck the bar from distance on 11 minutes then Ellie Mason had a shot blocked and Jordan Butler fired over from the rebound.
Forest's first chance came when Kelly Kennaugh powered in a free header from a corner on 17 minutes but Sarah Quantrill saved well. Millwall nearly scored directly from the clearance but Horwood was crowded out on the far post. However the opener was not long delayed as Millwall's Leigh Nicol won a tackle deep in the Forest half and laid a pass to Hincks, who fired home a powerful low shot from 20 yards on 19 minutes.
The visitors responded well to this setback and started to dominate play. The equaliser came from a powerful Katie Lowder header from 12 yards out after another right wing cross. Catherine Beaver fired a shot just over and wingers Andi Bell and Annabel McKechnie put Millwall's defence under severe pressure. The nearest the visitors came to taking the lead was right on the break when Lyndsey Harkin's corner was met by Kennaugh again, the ball rebounding to safety off the bar.
Beaver nearly gave Forest an early second half lead, but Quantrill turned her header wide at full stretch. The same player then hit the woodwork from close range as Forest continued to look dangerous.
The introduction of Cheatley gave Millwall added threat in attack and with Hincks dominating play on the right, the balance slowly tipped back towards the home team.
Aguirre made a very good save from a dangerous cross, punching away under strong pressure but was unlucky with Cheatley's 83rd minute goal. The former Ashford Town (Middx) striker outpaced the defence and Aguirre blocked her shot, only for the ball to loop high into the net despite Kennaugh's attempted clearance off the line.
Hincks added the third when set up by Cheatley's pass, another fine finish high into the top left corner from the edge of the area to seal Millwall's progress to the Fifth Round after an absorbing match in the best traditions of the competition.
Sarah Quantrill, Jordan Butler, Leigh Nicol, Leighanne Robe, Ashlee Hincks, Megan Wynne, Georgie Giddings, Bonnie Horwood, Ellie Mason, Phoebe Read, Amber Gaylor. Subs: Ashley Cheatley, Ella Rutherford, Brionne Fowle, Leanne Cowan, Billie Brooks.
Aja Aguirre, Lyndsey Harkin, Laura-Jayne O'Neill, Kelly Kennaugh, Millie Fugler, Katie McLaughlin, Annabel McKechnie, Catherine Beaver, Charlotte Broad, Katie Lowder, Andi Bell. Subs: Charlotte Griffin, Alice Hughes, Mallory Illsley, Demi Greenan, Rebecca Kemp.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kelly Kennaugh gets in a shot past Amber Gaylor and Leigh Nicol
(middle) Laura-Jayne O'Neill slides in to tackle Ashlee Hincks
(bottom) Ashley Cheatley is foiled by Aja Aguirre
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