Open from the off
The first chance fell to the hosts as they got forward well inside of the first few minutes, Gabby George’s smart header enough to clear the immediate danger for a corner that was eventually scrambled clear. Though it didn’t take long for Everton to hit back and create their own problems at a corner, the hosts shaky when overloaded in the box, yellow shirts streaming forward with purpose.
Despite the lack of parity between the two on paper, both were going hammer and tong from the off, Millwall doing well to get forward but lacking in the final third with the Toffees dropping back to close down the space. Ella Rutherford’s neat cross in the mixer left to float through with no teammates free to attack the dangerous ball before Everton turned it over and began to attack again.
With the ball being sent from one end of the pitch to the other and back again it was only a matter of time before one team found an opening, Rutherford the one to wedge the two sides apart. A neat run from Ellie Mason saw the former Watford girl attempt to feed the wily attacker, with yellow shirts closing her down though the weak ball fell to a defender before Rutherford wormed it away and let fly. The ball beyond Kristie Levell, it cannoned off of the far post before curling into the back of the net.
A good tackle in the box from Jordan Butler stopped Mollie Green from getting a clean shot away as Everton mounted another attack, the Blue Girls looking for a quick response. The next tackle in the home box by no means as clean with Emily Hollinshead whipped out from behind, the referee with no doubts over pointing to the spot. Unable to send Sarah Quantrill the wrong way, Claudia Walker made sure to put her spot kick just out of range of the keeper, Quantrill’s fingertips stinging as the ball slipped off of them and into the side of the goal. Parity restored.
A long build-up from Everton saw them flooding the home half, Dan Turner’s initial run enough to get her team moving forward, yellow bodies spilling into the box although Hollinshead’s eventual lashed effort skewed wide relieving the pressure. The game continued to swing back and forth until the break, Everton the better team in possession but the two still locked at 1-1 as they made for the dressing rooms.
The game followed much the same pattern after the break, both teams lively but missing that spark in the final third, the first clear chance of the second-half from Turner, her driven effort well stopped by Quantrill. The keeper well worked through the second-half, alert to tip Green’s effort round at a corner before saving George’s header low after the follow-up.
Lionesses up again
Having had less joy getting forward in the second period, Millwall finally found their rhythm to nudge themselves ahead just after the hour. Persistent work from Leanne Cowan had seen the fullback carry the ball down the left flank before firing one into the box for Arsenal loanee Charlie Devlin to smash into the goal at the back post.
An injury to Ellie Mason disrupted Millwall’s passage of play and Everton were able to re-group and attack again, Leighanne Robe’s intervention enough to take the ball away from Green after a smart run and lay-off from Walker. The half-chances flurrying for the visitors but Quantrill remained a match to their half-hearted efforts, chances scuffed and wayward. The Millwall keeper coming up trumps with a fine save two minutes from time to deny Walker when the striker was well in, the ball quickly countered but a lose pass for Megan Cheatley broke the move down with Devlin open.
With precious little time on the clock the match ignited, Everton fans left frustrated after Cowan and Quantrill had clashed going for the same ball, the whistle blown with Cowan holding her head, the ball still live with the goal ungeared. Amber Stobbs’ stoppage time effort skewing high and wide after a smart run to find space on the near side, neither team happy to hold up until the whistle.