Less like a pride of lionesses but more a group of baby deer finding their feet with eyes still closed, there was a certain Bambi feel to the Millwall squad that took to the pitch. One of a number of teams to have a summer overhaul, the team put together in east London a shade away from complete development squad, a smattering of experienced names buried amongst the cubs.
Although as many middle-aged male millionaires will tell you, there’s little wrong with youth, there was a clear gulf between the two teams. Experience the telling factor when, less than a minute in, Emma Beckett found herself unmarked at the back post. Her own experience letting her take a touch before picking out the perfect spot to leave Chloe Samson clawing at the air as the ball arced over her.
Generously mentioned in some circles as a promotion favourite – Manchester United aside – the Bees possessed the requisite experience at senior level to slice and scythe through the midfield with ease. With the Bees covering the blue Millwall shirts like a crust of turmeric, Chris Phillips’ side could do little more than stand in front of the ball, picking up bruises with each deflection.
Like waking from a deep slumber, the visitors rubbed at their eyes, stretched out and began showing the type of signs of life that require a complicated Starbucks order. With or without their espresso shot, Millwall pushed back against the Bees and found an equaliser late in the first half. Like the end of Finding Nemo there was plenty of neon orange and tears to be shed as Lia Cataldo pounced on a watered down back-pass and fired into the waiting goal.
More like a fish out of water, than a group of angry bees, determined to keep meddling hands off of their honey, the hosts capitulated, fast losing their buzz. Like a bee that had delivered its sting early, the hosts were left limp and defenceless as Millwall licked at the wound.
The visitors, to their credit, fought back although equally limply, less cat and mouse more, mouse and mouse. Like the hunter taking aim before blasting a shot at Bambi’s mother, there was nothing but ruthlessness from substitute Lauren Pickett. In a match that barely deserved it, Pickett’s accuracy from the left side was enough for all three points when she fired into the top right corner in the last knockings of the tie.