The Lionesses were scheduled to play the U’s on May 19 at the Den – the ground they share with the men’s team – but with the Lions progressing through to the League One play-offs, Millwall opted to postpone the fixture as the men would be taking to the pitch 24 hours later.
The news of the postponement was announced on Monday 16 May after the Lionesses had struggled to find a suitable replacement venue at short notice, but it’s now over two months later and Millwall still haven’t suggested a new date for the tie.
However, the same weekend Doncaster Rovers were due to host Arsenal in their second home league game of the year and had to postpone the match minutes before kick-off as heavy rain had left the Keepmoat pitch unplayable – and resembling a swimming pool. The Belles, who also share their ground with the men’s team, are yet to announce a replacement date either.
With 15 weeks of the FAWSL season left there is still plenty of time for a rescheduled fixture to be fitted in and played whether on a free weekend – of which there are a handful for both WSL 2 teams – or as another midweek game. Although a midweek fixture may not be ideal, the two sides are just 65 miles apart and in fact their first meeting of the year took place on a Thursday evening.
With both teams struggling for points this season they’ve sat at the foot of WSL2 for most of the year - only Watford have a worse point/goal difference tally. The three points sees Oxford leapfrog Millwall from ninth to eighth and counts as their third league win of the season, whilst Millwall’s only league win came against Oxford in their first match of the season.
Their first meeting of the year was not without its issues as the kick-off was delayed an hour due to heavy bank holiday traffic leaving the Lionesses stranded en route to Abingdon. The match, which was largely played in a monsoon, was an enthralling eight-goal game with Millwall edging out their hosts with five goals to three.
The two locked horns just outside of Oxford once again in May in a Continental Cup preliminary round clash, although there was little to separate the sides the hosts came out on top after a lone strike by substitute Georgia Timms.
With both sides thrashing around at the wrong end of the table, any match-up between the two is set to be not just a closely fought affair but one with large ramifications as to how the bottom three looks come the end of the season. Furthermore, given the poor form both have shown this year, it’s conceivable to think both sets of players would be more than happy to have more competitive playing time.
The only comparable such incident in WSL history took place over the 2014 season when Notts County were forced to cancel a home game against Bristol - then Academy, not City - due to an unfit playing surface at Meadow Lane.
The difference being that, although the Lady Pies had managed to find an alternate venue at short notice, it wasn’t granted approval by the FA and Bristol were awarded all three points from the tie. At the time Notts were also handed a £500 fine.
Yesterday it was reported that the FAWSL Management Committee had discussed the postponement and opted to award Oxford all three points, although no fine to Millwall has been reported.
Not long after the news broke, Millwall released a statement to say that they’ve started the appeals process and the decision has gone back to the committee.