Millwall Lionesses 1 Charlton Ladies 3
The Millwall Lionesses were unable to secure automatic progression to the next stage of the League Cup after losing out to an impressive Charlton side.
Emma Whitter came close to giving the hosts an early lead when a clever run through the Charlton defence saw her one-on-one with visiting keeper Kelly Cooper who got down to save well to her left with 10 minutes on the clock.
Soon after Cooper was called into action again, this time acrobatically tipping the ball over the bar to deny Whitter once more after a thunderous effort from from distance.
The visitors began to grow in confidence and looked particularly dangerous from set-pieces; coming close to a 25th-minute lead when Newman fed Gemma Shepherd who could only volley straight at Lionesses keeper Francesca Gibbs after some neat chest control.
In an end-to-end encounter, the in-form Whitter was inches from providing a first-half lead when she beat Cooper to the ball on the edge of the area only to have her effort cleared off the line by former Lioness Sarah Jones with Katie Flack blocking Nikki Payne’s follow up.
The deadlock was eventually broken, however, in the 34th minute when Shauni Griffiths collected the ball along the right flank and saw an ambitious shot deflect wickedly and loop over Cooper into the top corner.
Not to be deterred, the Addicks looked to restore parity immediately and struck the bar twice in a matter of seconds through Shepherd’s well-struck volley and subsequent follow-up, and they didn’t have to wait long to draw level. With a minute to go to the interval, a lack of communication between Gibbs and Kylie Davies following a harmless ball over the top allowed Charlton’s Sherpherd to nip in and square to Newman who slotted home.
On the 44th minute a harmless ball over the defence should have been claimed by Gibbs but the lack of communication between her and Kylie Davies allowed Gemma Shepherd to nip in between the two, squaring the ball to Newman, who had the simplest of tasks to slot it into an unguarded net.
The Lionesses started the second-half strongly with Whitter crashing a free-kick against the bar but the visitors claimed a vital second through Shepherd, who capitalised on a loose ball in the box when the hosts failed to deal with a corner.
It looked like it may be ‘one of those days’ when Ciara Sherwood struck the woodwork once again from distance, and they were made to pay for another piece of bad luck when the visitors were awarded a dubious penalty; Shepherd making no mistake from 12-yards to secure a hard-fought victory.
The Lionesses host Brighton next and need to beat them by three goals and hope that other results go their way to progress to the next stage safely, a scenario which Manager Alberto Kurti hopes can come to fruition.
“We know what we have to do. Les and I will go back to the drawing board and tweak a few things to make sure we get the required result,”, he said.
“I’m disappointed with this result because if we had finished our chances we could have been three or more goals ahead. With a bit of composure and luck it could’ve been a different story but what an entertaining game game of football this was.”
Team: Gibbs, Mackie (Grafton, 70’), Lennon, Davies, Strugnell, Manning (Igbavboia, 60’), Ferguson, Sherwood (Kulinski, 84’), Whitter, Griffiths, Payne. Subs not used: Elliot, Yardley.