Having enjoyed a better 2016 season and having managed to retain more key players than Millwall, the Bees started the game brighter, keen to push to the front foot form the off but came up against a stubborn team of Lionesses.
Early lead lasts for Lionnesses
A nicely worked passage of play saw Amber Gaylor carry the ball down the left channel before feeding it into Megan Wynne, after being denied her point-blank header by Sophie Harris both partied kept digging at the ball before it eventually crossed the line. The goal was far from pretty but it was indicative of the game, both teams clearly rusty from the winter, the football refusing to flow.
With the lion’s share of possession but criminally lacking a good touch and fluency, all the ideas were right from the Bes but they had nothing to show for it. Conversely Millwall were resolute with their defending, counter-attacking sharply, a long ball over the top enough to leave the new-look Bees defence looking shaky. The Lionesses consistently dangerous with Ashlee Hincks holding her run ready to nip in behind and Gaylor running the channels.
The hosts grew in the game, carrying more of a threat and imposing themselves more across the pitch as their opponents still struggled with their execution when it came to getting the ball down and playing.
Still the more composed team after the break, Millwall were the side determined to make their chances count and Hincks easily could have doubled the advantage as she nipped in claim the ball before Harris but for a bad first touch. A subsequent chip from Jo Wilson after Sarah Quantrill had over-committed sailed over the crossbar, as the words “pre season” hung unsaid in the air.
Gifted by mistakes, chances came and went for both but neither could capitalise.
Bees push but can't find a leveller
Pushing hard for an equaliser, the visitors left bigger and bigger gaps at the back, after Harris had over-commited and come steaming out of her box, Hincks was slowed down by Amber Tullett who was desperate to stop the attacker from having a clean shot. With her keeper still away from home, Anne Miewald was alert to clear the ball from the line, keeping her team alive.
With the fans in the stands shivering and the play routinely stopped for soft fouls there was little [cup] magic to be had on the pitch, Millwall still better with the ball and working better without it. The biggest problem for the trailing team their inability to trouble Quantrill, Millwall on the cusp of killing it off late in the game. The last chance of the game came with the last kick, but once more the effort was wide and Millwall ran out deserved winners, having done everything right on the day both on and off the ball.