Lionesses edge to Cup success
Millwall Lionesses 3 Gillingham Ladies 2
The Lionesses had to battle hard to secure a second successive victory over Gillingham Ladies, this time in a League Cup encounter.
The visitors began the game the better side, setting a quick tempo as they attempted to prove a point following the previous week’s loss to the Lionesses.
A clever run down the left by Gills player Dena Cooper saw her past Lioness Chantelle Mackie; her cross finding midfielder Charlotte Gurr who calmly beat Lioness keeper Yardley to give the Gills a deserved lead.
The goal sparked the Lionesses into life, the hosts creating a number of chances; Sherwood and Igbavboia in particular coming close to finding an equaliser only to be denied by good goalkeeping from the Gillingham stopper. Young striker Abby Dawson was making her first start for the squad and her clever runs continued to put The Gills defenders under pressure.
They were made to pay for their missed chances, however, when Gillingham went 2-0 up against the run of play. In the 35th minute, a cross from the right was met by the head of Lionesses captain Dionne Lennon who diverted the ball into her own net under pressure from Gillingham forwards.
With rain streaming down, the Lionesses emerged for the second-half a completely different team. The indomitable Emma Whitter came on at the break and scored within two minutes of her introduction. A neat pass from Ciara Sherwood found the run of Whitter, who smashed a 35-yard screamer past an out-of-position Gillingham keeper.
From this moment on the Lionesses confidence grew and they got their second goal of the match in the 50th minute with Whitter again beating the Gillingham defenders and smashing the ball past their keeper from outside the box.
In a frantic start to the second-half, the Lionesses completed a dramatic comeback when their third goal arrived with 55 minutes on the clock. Following some excellent work from Shauni Grifiths, whose shot on goal was saved by Ruth Jackson, Abigail Igbavboia found herself in the perfect position to pick up the rebound and crash the ball into the back of the net.
Manager Alberto Kurti said after the game: “We made it very difficult for ourselves today and credit must go to Gillingham as they managed to put us on the back foot in the first-half. But I never stopped believing that we would get a result today even though I had decided to rest some first team players.
“Our character shone through today as we managed to come back and dominate the game following a shaky start. The girls passion, desire and ‘never-say-die’ attitude was outstanding.”
Squad: Chanell Yardley, Chantelle Mackie, Dionne Lennon, Ellie Manning, Francesca Strugnell, Shauni Grifiths, Ciara Sherwood, Fern Colepio (Kayligh Xidhas, 60mins), Nikki Payne, Abby Dawson (Emma Whitter, 46mins), Abigail Igbavboia.