Ladies First Team vs. Millwall Lionesses (2 : 1)
Sheffield FC got their FA WSL Spring Series campaign up and running with a hard-fought 2-1 win, despite a late charge from Millwall Lionesses.
Sheffield – whose scheduled first game against Doncaster Rovers Belles was postponed due to the weather a fortnight ago – led after nine minutes, Sophie Jones doing enough to ensure Hannah Cain’s cross found the net with a distracting run across goal.
The visitors almost doubled their lead on 20 minutes, Cain charging into the box before dragging her shot wide.
Millwall ought to have levelled after 33 minutes, Ashlee Hincks nodding into Sarah Kempson’s path, but her shot was straight at Julianna Draycott.
And Jones made it 2-0 three minutes later, her long-range shot bouncing down and out off the upright but the linesman awarding a goal despite Millwall’s protests.
However, the Lionesses got back in the game on 38 minutes, Hincks chasing Amber Gaylor’s ball, cutting inside Carla Ward and passing into the bottom corner.
Millwall went close on 57 minutes, when Bonnie Horwood rattled the crossbar, before Hincks spurned an even better opportunity after 61 minutes, scuffing her shot with the goal begging.
The crowd thought Millwall were level on 70 minutes, but Hincks’ fierce volley hit the side netting.
And the hosts continued to threaten from a series of corners, but Sheffield soaked up the late pressure to make a perfect start.
Sheffield captain Carla Ward said: “Absolutely, we were expecting a response. We played them twice last year and I said before this game that they’re a team that we massively respect because of the way they play. They stick together and we knew at half-time that we couldn’t take our foot off the gas. It was certainly a game of two halves because I thought first half we dominated, second half they completely outplayed us, but we’re just thankful in the end that we held on to get the three points.”
“At one point, when Ash [Hincks] went through on goal where she could’ve scored and slotted it wide, I was thinking to myself we’ve had quite a lot of chances in the first half that we should’ve put away. As soon as it dropped to her I thought it was going in the back of the net. I know Ash quite well and I know what she’s capable of, she’s an outstanding footballer. Credit to the girls, they’ve dug in, dug deep and some of that defending at the end was outstanding.”
Ashlee Hincks, Millwall Lionesses goalscorer said: “It’s definitely disappointing not to get the three points. I think, barring the first 20 minutes, we were completely dominant. We had a chance at 2-1 which we should’ve taken, which would have changed the course of the game completely. It would’ve been 2-2 with 30 minutes to go, so we’re very disappointed not to go and get three points.”
“It is frustrating, I think we’re so much fitter than last year. The last 15 minutes in each game we’ve played so far we’ve been completely up and above the other team. We can’t just seem to find that last bit again. It was the highlight of our year last year but, looking at our games, we have scored goals. There’s goals that we’ve scored in the last few games that we really wouldn’t have scored last season, so that’s definitely improved.”
Millwall Lionesses: Quantrill, Brooks, Butler, Robe, Wynne, Horwood, Nicol, Giddings, Gaylor, Hincks, Kempson. Subs: Cowan, Cheatley, Mason, Kanto, Read.
Sheffield FC: Draycott, Jackson, Lipman, Ward, Gilliatt, Dale, McCue, Flint, Cain, Makin, Jones. Subs: Dixon, Johnson, Owen, Wallhead, Murphy, Lord-Mears.